What is the optimum type of car propulsion system ? ( definitive answer ! )

IMO given currently available technology the optimum type of propulsion system is a matter of

1 - target power level
2 - usage scenario
3 - other special considerations ( to be discussed below )

1 - power level.

internal combustion engines have the same 40% maximum efficiency as power plant turbines that generate electricity that charges your electric car. the problem is this efficiency is only achieved under load, which means under acceleration. under normal driving conditions engines run at partial loads at which efficiencies are very low. the larger the engine the lower the load percentage in normal operation and thus the worse the efficiency.

in practice it means that if you’re willing to drive an underpowered car with a 100 hp 3-cylinder engine you can be pretty efficient without any hybrid tech or any electrification because your engine is already under almost full load from just coasting.

on other hand the more powerful the engine the more you have to keep it cycled off and use it only during hard acceleration.

in other words:

for cars under 150 hp or so regular internal combustion engine is going to be decently efficient.

for cars in the 150 - 300 hp range you will want to have a hybrid system.

for cars in the 300 - 600 hp you will want to have a plug in hybrid.

for cars over 600 hp you will want to go full electric.

why ?

because batteries make about up to 10 hp per KWH and the tradeoff between battery weight and range is such that most people want about 80 KWH battery in an EV, which works out to about 30% of the weight of average car. smaller battery and you get low range. larger battery and you get a heavy car that is inefficient and doesn’t handle or brake well.

a 80 KWH battery is good for about 800 hp and because of the nature of electric motors there is no penalty ( or very little penalty ) for running on partial load which means there is very little reason to under-size electric motors. whereas with ICE car there is strong incentive to use smallest engine possible with electric cars there isn’t thus if the battery can do 800 hp there is very little reason not let the car put all of those 800 hp to the ground.

electric cars with less than about 500 hp are basically retarded because there is very little reason to not put at least 600 hp in electric car as it has almost no penalty on economy.

and then when we look at plug in hybrids its same basic physics / math but now we’re looking at roughly 20 KWH rather than 80 KWH battery and about 200 hp electric motor. this will fairly seamlessly transition to a 400 hp combustion engine for a total of 600 hp or so. think 6,500 rpm redline with transition from electric to gas power at around 2,000 rpm in a typical configuration that uses a pancake electric motor in place of torque converter in a transmission. this would produce a very good torque curve with peak torque at around 2,000 rpm, and decent torque all the way down to zero rpm.

going down in power to regular hybrid we are now looking at a battery that can maybe do about 100 hp tops plus it must be charged by the engine so the engine has to be efficient and thus small so we’re probably looking at about 200 hp engine tops and about 300 hp total power tops.

and for regular ICE we need a tiny engine because we can’t turn it off and we have to minimize losses during idling so we’re talking 1 liter / 150 hp engine or so tops.

1 Like

2 - usage scenario

if you never drive your car it doesn’t matter how inefficient it is. what matters is the embedded carbon or manufacturing cost.

so for example for a Bugatti that will mostly live in a garage and only coming out once a month or so it makes no sense to put in a battery in there to improve fuel economy, since you’re not driving it anyway.

but for a NYC taxi that is on the job 12 hours a day it would be insane NOT to use a hybrid system to squeeze out every ounce of fuel economy.

and likewise if you have a long highway commute ( over 50 miles or so ) you will probably want an electric car because hybrids are only efficient in the city, a plug in hybrid will not deliver consistent performance with those driving distances, and you’re putting on enough miles for fuel savings to be meaningful.

on other hand if you are a typical driver that mostly takes short trips with an occasional long trip then a plug in hybrid is ideal because you will take all those short trips on battery power but still be able to take trips as long as you want by switching to gas.

1 Like

3 - special considerations.

3(A) - if you’re a motorcycle user there are special considerations, namely:

A1 - electric motorcycles have very limited range, about 1/3 as much as electric cars
A2 - hybrid motorcycles are too heavy and complex to be practical - every pound counts on a motorcycle because you have to be able to pick it up if it tips over
A3 - gas powered motorcycles run hot and will fry your testicles if you get stuck in traffic with no airflow

so for a motorcycle you have to ask yourself - what type of weather are you going to be dealing with ? an electric bike might be a good idea for a place like Florida where it’s always hot and you don’t want any more heat from the engine. on other hand in Canada that heat may be a feature. also if you like touring an electric bike probably will not work for you because it only gets about 100 miles per charge. and so on. hybrid bikes are only really usable as scooters where low power and heavy weight are expected.

3(B) - effects of weather on range in an electric car.

the effect of cold on electric range is DRAMATIC. up to 40% loss of range in poor designs, with less of a penalty in better designs. i have felt it myself. in my case it does seem like 40% loss of range, but that doesn’t mean my car is bad - it’s just that a Plug-In hybrid doesn’t prioritize EV range as much as a full EV does. my TOTAL ( EV+ICE ) range is still over 400 miles in winter, but my EV range drops from about 20 miles in summer to about 12 miles in winter.

the bottom line being - EVs will work much better in Florida and California than in Canada. if you live in a climate with extremely cold winters having a combustion engine ( Plug in Hybrid ) may be worth it just for the heat it produces in winter.

so there you have it frens !

if you know how much power you need, how much you drive, how long your trips, what your weather is like … you can determine what is the ideal propulsion system is for your car.

BUT ! ! !

my guide only tells you what the ideal system SHOULD BE based on PHYSICS ONLY.

unfortunately there is also politics, investor ponzi schemes and market segmentation bullshit to contend with.

in other words at any given time some cars will be sold at artificially low cost to make quarterly delivery numbers or whatever the case may be while other cars will be artificially gimped to avoid cannibalizing other cars in the manufacturer’s lineup and so on …

Tesla cars are least nerfed in terms of horsepower but they are fucked in other ways …

other manufacturers like Mercedes, BMW, Porsche and Audi are nerfing the power output of their EVs because they don’t want to cannibalize their ICE sales …

while BMW it seems has hit on the right approach that actually reflects what i have outlined at the beginning of this thread, where they offer ICE models at the low end, Plug in Hybrids at the mid-range and EV at the higher end …

Mercedes and Audi don’t want to do that because their EV and ICE models are on different platforms and they want each platform to have low end, mid-range and high-end …

the point being that the industry is still in the process of discovering a business model that works because their goal isn’t to build cars in a way that makes sense but in a way that makes money …

Tesla did disrupt the industry and it is currently in flux and i can’t yet say what it will settle on …

The industry initially attempted to offer low-cost EVs like Nissan Leaf but every single one of them has failed because they have ignored the fundamental physics i have outlined at the beginning of this thread …

Marketing and wishful thinking can bend the laws of physics but it can’t break them …

the industry is now in the process of re-aligning itself with reality …

but it’s impossible to say to what extent politics, market segmentation and further down the line technological innovation and improvements to charging infrastructure will bend the general formula i have presented here …

essentially to make it as simple as possible with combustion engines there is a larger penalty when operating at partial loads than with electric motors, which means cars that lean towards combustion side of things must be less powerful for optimum efficiency while electric leaning cars can be more powerful and still efficient.

you basically get four levels of this ICE > Hybrid > PHEV > EV each representing a step towards a higher degree of electrification and thus higher level of power that can be achieved while maintaining good efficiency

it is actually VERY EASY to make a 1,000 hp combustion engined car but IT WON’T BE LEGAL due to emissions regulations. this is why hobbyists can make such ( not street legal ) cars for drag racing but big automakers can’t sell you a similar car because it has to be street legal.

the point is don’t think of it in terms of Gas vs Electric. think of it in terms of power level. the higher the power the higher the optimum level of electrification due to efficiency and legal considerations.

it isn’t binary. it’s not gas or electric. it’s a question of how much gas and how much batteries.

sadly people of average IQ are too retarded to grasp this and automakers know this and they have to create car line ups that people can actually understand and that is how they end up creating cars that make no sense to anybody who actually knows physics

this is how abominations like Nissan Leaf are created … and so on …

i honestly doubt this write up is going to help anybody but i had to get this information out

hope you learned something