There are stories about inner transformation and change of heart, especially after an escapade. A trip to the snow-capped mountains or a sabbatical on a remote island, or even as you lay on the bed, watching a re-run of the 2016 Academy Awards. 29 February 2016. Leonardo Di Caprio finally has the coveted Oscar in his hands and it is for his breath-taking performance in ‘The Revenant’. To paraphrase Leo, ‘it is a movie based on man and his relationship with nature, and his acceptance speech was proof enough of how much it meant to him. His love for the planet and his fears surrounding climate change make him arguably the most popular and ‘woke’ advocate for nature conservation. So powerful was the speech that it makes you wonder as you gaze into the first tinge of the blue sky. It is funny how randomly you can strike a chord with something. Watching the sky transform into every shade of blue as the clock ticked on is nothing short of mesmerising. Such is the impact, that even the staunchest petrol-head might consider electrification.

Shock-a-block

As much as you hate to admit it, it is a fact – EVs are the future. Sure they are more of a necessity than desire, but they are what we need to bring about a change. Yes, it is a hard pill to swallow. However, they aren’t the most practical offerings out there what with the lacklustre charging infrastructure and long charging times. Add to that the weak battery range along with the high cost of purchase and the deal turns sour rather quickly. The reality is, we need to protect the ‘now’ and not get ahead of ourselves. We need to embrace what we have and work around it effectively. EVs might be the future, but the present yearns for hybrids. A technology that has been around and has been staring at us all this while as we scamper around for solutions.

Toyota Hybrid

Hybrid Theory

The word ‘hybrid’ instantly reminds us of the Toyota Prius. A car that debuted this ground-breaking technology and yes, Leo had one too. In fact, he spoke about how much he liked it on a number of occasions. Could you ask for a better ambassador? That too for free! Owners who have bought the Toyota Camry Hybrid are laughed upon and scoffed for not being a ‘true petrolhead’. But the facts are quite different. You see, given the current scenario, a Hybrid is a perfect answer to our questions. Also, the irony is hilarious as Toyota has put to use its Hybrid tech to great use in…ready for it? Le Mans! And that, is good enough reason for any petrol-head to want one.

Current Affair

The 24 hours of Le Mans is one of the oldest and historic races in the world. An almost biblical part of motorsport that has featured some of the most iconic moments in automotive history. To win at Le Mans is a milestone many car-makers strive for and Toyota, thanks to the Hybrid tech, has reached that milestone not once, but on multiple occasions. The TS050 LMP1 monster has been sprayed with the winning champagne for the last three years in succession, so there has to be some witchcraft behind this. So good is the Hybrid tech, that Toyota has plucked it and used learnings from their time at the track to incorporate it in the Camry. Yes, a premium luxury sedan that focusses on comfort and refinement gets the same DNA as a low-slung Le Mans rocket. The appalling city traffic sure makes us wish we were in the TS050.

Toyota Hybrid

Geek Out

It is quite exciting to be honest this Hybrid tech. A hybrid engine is a combination of a petrol engine and an electric motor. It is powerful, smooth but most importantly, it is also a self-charging hybridelectric vehicle or “strong hybrid”. What that means, is that the battery charges itself as you drive along. There is regenerative braking and yes, it is as complex as it sounds. But basically, it captures the energy that is wasted during braking and charges the battery. The Hybrid battery can be charged from excess power from the engine while the car is still running. Also, a hybrid runs on full-electric mode for almost 60% of the time. Now that is a surprising figure. In doing so, a hybrid also saves almost 2 tonnes of CO2 annually and that is what gets us clean blue skies. What about efficiency? Well, that too is an impressive 19kpl. The same goes for the massive Toyota Vellfire. Sprawling cabin, some top-notch luxury and again, the same hybrid tech. This luxury lounge on wheels is a “strong hybrid” as well. For a massive luxury MPV, you’d expect a diesel powertrain, but nope. The Vellfire too trusts in hybrid tech and thanks to the self-charging technology, you also get a massive range. The petrolelectric combination and it’s self-charging nature means you can stretch that range and go further than you would.

Clean Slate

Coasting along in silence, under the blanket of the bright blue sky will restore your faith in hybrids. The silent cabin and a buttery smooth drive sure made the cumbersome drive out of the city a breeze. What is also another big plus and something that comes as a relief, are the long term savings. Thanks to the “strong hybrid” tech, you save up on a good chunk of money over a period of time. Also, whoever said, hybrids are slow and boring needs to get behind the wheel of one. The instant response from the battery along with the powerful engine is a gentle reminder of why Toyota has been on that top step in Le Mans for the last three years. It is incredible how soon a complex technology like SHEV, which is designed for cutting edge performance can be implemented in everyday use and for something that is in stark contrast. The more you drive a Hybrid, the more you are left with a strong bias towards hybrid tech, which does make you feel like you are making a difference each time the ‘EV’ light turns on. Has there been a change of heart? There most certainly has. Hybrids allow you to do both with conviction as you do your part in making the skies bluer without having to compromise on performance. Now time to buy one and join the Leonardo Di Caprio club.