Lexus has built a reputation based on the efficiency of its hybrid drive systems. Existing owners already know about the benefits of our petrol-electric powertrains, but with more drivers looking to save fuel and cash as overall living costs rise, now is the perfect time to highlight how to drive a hybrid and the benefits of hybrid drive.
Here we guide you through the benefits of a hybrid drive system, and show you how you can make the most of its efficiency every day, using the Lexus UX small premium SUV as an example.
How does hybrid drive work?
Whichever Lexus hybrid you choose, the system comprises of the same three basic elements: a petrol engine, an electric motor and a battery pack dedicated to driving that electric motor. In the instance of the UX 250h, this means a 2.0-litre petrol engine and an electric motor powered by a 1.4kWh battery. All three systems are joined together via an eCVT gearbox that sends drive to the wheels, while the vehicle’s electronics manage energy flow to and from these sources via the eCVT transmission.
While the system recharges the battery when the car is on the move, there’s plenty that you can do to help save energy with every drive. Here are some helpful tips to make this powertrain as efficient as possible.
How to save fuel by driving efficiently
A smooth driving style is the best way to boost efficiency. Look as far ahead to see what’s coming, and you will be able to better prepare for any situation. This applies on every road but is doubly important in urban areas where cars such as the UX 250h spend more time running on electric drive than they do on petrol power.
A sharp press of the accelerator will see the engine fire up immediately, so is best avoided. To boost efficiency, try applying the accelerator smoothly so that the electric motor does most of the work before the engine cuts in. If you’re looking far enough ahead and see a hazard, then lift off the throttle early so that the drive system starts harvesting energy back into the battery, ready for when it’s next needed.
Concentration is key, and if you’re focusing on driving, then you’ll be able to boost your efficiency easily. You’ll be able to anticipate what’s happening around you, meaning you’ll spend less time stopping. You’ll use less energy getting back up to speed when compared with pulling away from stationary, too.
Speed is an important element in the quest for efficiency. While the motorway speed limit is 70mph, tests have proved that dropping your speed by 10mph can improve fuel efficiency by roughly 10 per cent. Going slower might feel frustrating, but how much extra time will a journey really take? Lower speeds will help put more energy back into the battery while you’re driving, too.
How to save fuel with preparation
A regularly serviced Lexus will be at its optimum to deliver the best efficiency because all of the mechanical components will be checked to ensure they’re in the best working shape. Checking that the engine oil is topped up will help, too.
Tyre pressures are another factor in delivering the best efficiency. Under-inflated tyres create additional drag, so the hybrid system has to do more work (and thus use more fuel) to keep your car moving. Buy a tyre pressure gauge to use for a consistent reading, because garage forecourt air pumps could be inaccurate.
Weight saving is another way to help reduce your car’s energy use. If there’s less weight for the hybrid system to move around, then less effort will be needed to get up to speed. It might be worth doing a weekly clearout of your car to help keep the weight down – remember that every little helps in the quest for efficiency.
A similar rule applies to roof racks. These not only add weight, but they also cause aerodynamic drag, which spoils the airflow over the car and further blunts economy. If you don’t need your rack or roof bars, take them off and reap the benefits!
The Lexus UX 250h features a menu within the touchscreen that lets you monitor your efficiency. There is a real-time energy flow graphic and a minute-by-minute guide that shows you your energy use during any journey. Useful features such as this can help you to boost your efficiency even further.