Hybrid cars review in Kenya | Should you buy one?

Fuel cost is one reason that makes owning a car a great financial commitment in Kenya. Every time you are driving the car, it is using your cash. Hybrid cars can greatly reduce the cost of running your car, on the other hand, most Kenyans have not embraced these cars and it is common for mechanics to advise against buying one. Below, we will see the advantages and disadvantages of owning hybrid cars and everything you need to about these cars. In the end, you will make an effective decision with the right information.

Hybrid car in Kenya

How does a Hybrid car work?

A hybrid car runs on both fuel and electric power. To achieve this, it has a combustion engine and an electric motor. Hybrid cars come with more engine parts such as batteries, converters and inverters. The car can be charged from an external source of power or internally as we will see in the types of hybrids below.

Types of Hybrid cars

Before deciding whether to buy a hybrid car or not, you will need to understand your choices for these cars and how they operate. Below is a detailed look at different types of hybrid cars.

1. Full hybrid

In the full hybrid type, there is no external source for the needed electric power, instead, this power is generated from the petrol engine. It happens when you are accelerating and also when braking through a process called regenerative braking. The energy is stored in the hybrid battery.

full hybrid

In a full hybrid, the electric motor can take full control of the car or work together with the combustion engine. That is how full hybrid vehicles work to reduce fuel consumption.

2. Plugin Hybrid(PHEV)

The Plugin Hybrid Electric Vehicle(PHEVs) can be recharged by the engine also. However, they have to be charged externally for optimum performance, then hence come with provision for charging and fueling. Charging of the vehicle, just like in electric vehicles depends on the speed of the electric charge and the electric battery size.

Plugin hybrid

These types of hybrids can be driven on electric power only for a distance, not more than 65 Kms. Charing from your home socket can take hours but it is faster on fast-charging stations, however, in Kenya, these stations are not fully established.

3. Mild Hybrid

For a mild hybrid, the combustion engine usually works hand in hand with the electric motor, the motor in this case is not as big as you would find in the other above two types. The electric motor can be used to give extra power, at times, the combustion engine will be turned off when you brake.

Mild hybrid Mercedes S class
A mild hybrid Mercedes S Class

In a mild hybrid, fuel consumption is reduced just slightly. In most mild hybrids, the electric motor is added to boost power and acceleration rather than to reduce fuel usage. That being said, this still helps since you will avoid a bigger engine that would have given the power you get but at a higher fuel consumption rate.

Which is the best hybrid car in Kenya?

In Kenya, charging stations are not well established and you will rarely come across one, additionally, the reason for buying a hybrid car is to reduce fuel usage. The full hybrid vehicles win in the two cases and hence they are currently the best pick in Kenya.

What is the fuel consumption of Full hybrid cars in Kenya?

Full hybrid cars are known to give up to 36km/L which is great fuel economy. However, this will also depend on your driving skills and the terrain on which you are driving the vehicle.

Also, see the Most fuel-efficient cars in Kenya.

Advantages of Hybrid cars

Next, if you are wondering what benefits one gets from a hybrid, we will what they are below.

  • Fuel economy- as we have seen from above, full hybrid vehicles and plugin hybrid vehicles do reduce how much the vehicle is going to use per kilometer. This however will depend on the manufacturer, terrain and driving range. For example, for a hilly long driving range, the battery might be drained up, which means the vehicle will use the combustion engine, this will leads to more consumption.
  • Environment friendly- since the fuel usage is reduced, it means that the emissions from the vehicle are also reduced leading to more environmental-friendly vehicles.
  • Quick acceleration- as we saw, some mild hybrids will give more power and increase acceleration which is a good thing to have.
  • A better price- most hybrid vehicles will cost slightly less than their petrol and diesel counterparts while this is not always the case, it happens frequently. For example, a Toyota Hybrid costs slightly less than a petrol Toyota Harrier.

Disadvantages of hybrid cars

Hybrid cars also do have their disadvantages as below.

  • Battery replacement cost- this is perhaps one of the most feared things for hybrid vehicles in Kenya. The price of the battery is so high and it would go up to Ksh 500,000. One should hence do due diligence before purchasing a hybrid by testing the quality of the battery.
  • Lower resale value- if you are planning to sell your hybrid car after some time, you should expect to sell it at lower prices than the none hybrid of the same vehicle. This is because most Kenyans have not embraced hybrid technology yet.
  • Battery replacements are not available locally- in most cases, if you want to replace the battery or some of its modules, you will have to import them, and wait for a long before delivery, plus, this increases the cost.
Hybrid car in Kenya

Are hybrid cars reliable?

Hybrid cars, especially petrol hybrid cars are known to be more reliable than their none hybrid versions. The main concern should be the battery.

Hybrid cars’ battery life in Kenya

You may have noted that the battery life is very important in a hybrid vehicle. Below are some points that can help you make the right choices with regard to the battery as you purchase your hybrid car:

  • Depending on the car manufacturer, the battery will need replacement or repair after 8 to 15 years. Since we import cars that are 8 years old or less to Kenya, it would be safe to go for a with 80,000 Kms mileage or less.
  • The battery lifespan is influenced by two things, the number of recharges and how old it is. The more the battery is charged and recharged, the more its cells reduce in quality. For the age, the components’ quality will deteriorate with time.
  • A hybrid car with higher mileage means it has gone very many cycles of charging and recharging and hence the quality is more likely lower unless repaired.
  • It is also important to note that in some cases(not all) car components are repaired before a foreign used car is imported into the country.
  • Hybrid cars have different cells, these cells can be tested to determine if they are still functional.
  • Before purchasing a used hybrid car(both local and foreign), it is advisable to test the battery.
  • If you buy a hybrid car and the battery becomes dysfunctional, make sure you test cell by cell to determine whether you have to replace the whole battery or only some cells.

Popular hybrid cars in Kenya

There are popular hybrid cars that have served Kenyans and have a good reputation. The two common ones are the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight. There are however more from different brands search as Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Audi, and other top car brands in Kenya.

Toyota prius

Should I buy a Hybrid car in Kenya?

Hybrid cars are a great way to save on fuel costs, there are however risks involved. Our advice is you can go ahead and purchase a hybrid car, however, make sure that you test the battery and the mileage for the car should be low.

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