With India having announced its net-zero carbon emissions target by 2070, we need the right petrol ‘vehicle’ until the time a nationwide charging infrastructure is set up for battery electric vehicles (BEVs).
Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs)
While BEVs have a battery that needs to be charged from an external source—like an electric socket—HEVs use two sources of power to drive the vehicle: internal combustion engine (usually a petrol) and electric motor.The electric motor gets energy from a battery pack, and the engine gets energy from the fuel. The engine, while powering the wheels, charges the battery. The battery also gets charged when you press the brakes.
Even the best BEVs available in India right now have a range of 300-500 km, and if there isn’t ample public charging infrastructure support, users of BEVs can face range anxiety (worry the battery will run out of power while driving).HEVs don’t have any such issues—on short distances, certain HEVs can be operated only as BEVs, and longer journeys can be enabled using both petrol and electric power.
Enter the Lexus
The newest HEV launched in India is the Lexus NX 350h (N stands for ‘nimble’, X signifies ‘cross’ and is used for SUVs or crossovers, 350 denotes engine power, and h stands for ‘hybrid’).Changes over the NX 300h include the new interface (multimedia system with a 14-inch touchscreen), touch sensor type steering wheel switches linked to the 10-inch head-up display, slightly different exterior design, electronic one-touch door opening, far more powerful engine and motors, faster acceleration, lower carbon emissions, more driver assist features, and so on.
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How does it drive and feel?
Cabin: There is five-star luxury, and then there is the Lexus. A lot of attention has been paid to detailing and ease of usage. The one-touch door opening—you press a button and slightly push the doors to open—is an example. Another example is that every button and control is within easy reach of the driver.
Drive: Here it’s nothing like any luxury car in India, thanks to the hybrid system. While the 2.5-litre petrol engine itself is powerful, working in tandem with the electric motor it makes the NS 350h an athlete of an SUV.But power is not its forte; efficiency is.From standstill until you ‘slowly’ accelerate to about 40 km/h, there is no sound from the car—the reason, it runs exclusively on electric motor.
Press the accelerator hard and the petrol engine comes to life and, with the already running electric motor, gives you spirited performance. Press the brakes and the regenerative braking system takes over, turning the car’s kinetic energy into electric energy, charging the battery.While driving it at slow speeds for about an hour without AC on traffic-free roads, I was able to operate in pure-electric mode for 82% of the driving time—I was very soft with the accelerator pedal, and let the NX coast when going downhill.
Even if you drive in a regular way, I am sure in urban traffic you can drive it in pure-electric mode 30-40% of the time.Available in three trims, the NX 350h is priced Rs 64.9 lakh (Exquisite), Rs 69.5 lakh (Luxury) and Rs 71.6 lakh (F-Sport). If you have to spend money on a luxury car, better spend on a BEV or an HEV. It’s time luxury and sustainability go hand in hand.