By - admin

I recount here my experience in a car showroom, where a new version of an already existing model was being marketed as hybrid. Here is how the conversation went
I already own the earlier version, so please tell me how the engine switches from petrol to electricity
Sir, let me first show you the other features. There are daylight running lights in front and bigger headlights with a different front look
I know. Tell me about the power transfer
Inside it is almost similar to the earlier version except some wood finish on the door. There is an additional battery under the seat
Exactly. So tell me how power switches from petrol to electric.
Sir, when you are at a signal the engine stops and restarts as soon as you hit the accelerator, saving fuel. It also has a cruise function.
This is standard feature available in luxury cars. I am aware of this. Please show me under the hood.
On seeing a similar engine layout, I ask where is the unit that switches power from petrol to electricity?
Sir that is all inside the engine.
This is not the answer to my question; let’s forget it. I walk away.
Some time later a senior salesman walks up to me and says that the engine start stop function requires more power, which is provided by the second battery hence this is classified as Mild Hybrid. This is not the “Hybrid Hybrid”
This interaction set me thinking. Why do marketers have to repackage and recategorize things so blatantly? Do they think customers are idiots?
Take the case of real estate companies renaming Lalbaug area as Upper Worli. Do they think customers do not see through this ruse? If some one does purchase a property here at a stretch to his finances, it is only because the poor guy wants proximity to his office, or other family constraints.
Or take the case of renaming roads. After 50 years Swatantrya Veer Savarkar Marg is still Cadel Road, and Sant Gadge Maharaj Chowk is still Jacob Circle. So what was achieved other than some political brownie points? On the bright side, when you hear the female voice of Google GPS pronouncing these names weirdly and funnily, even if you are tearing your hair in traffic, you do crack a smile
Or Ghod Bunder Road is called “Upper Thane”. Are they looking down on residents of old Thane? To my mind this has a potential to cause a societal divide
Coming back to my point.
As per definition a hybrid vehicle uses two or more distinct types of power, such as internal combustion engine to drive an electric generator that powers an electric motor.
Engine start stop is only a fuel saving feature. In a diesel vehicle the engine restarts with a disturbing thud, so people like me do not use the feature.
The cruise function may save some fuel, but where is the chance to cruise in Bombay? (I still often forget Mumbai). Even on the Expressway on weekends, you cruise at your own peril lest you cruise to the next world!!
I understand many companies create their own definitions to market small feature additions as Hybrid vehicles. As a customer I strongly object to being treated as a fool.
Dr Vishwas Sovani( September 2018)

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