Heaters in hybreds

When our gas-guzzling Ford gives up the ghost we plan to buy a hybred. However, a friend told me that hybreds are notoriously cold because without a gas engine hitting on all cylinders there will be no heat for the cabin or to keep the windshield clear. Is this true?

NOT TRUE! The Prius has a 1.5 liter engine, slightly smaller than the Corolla. The Prius engine is about 35% efficient (max) which means that 65% of the heat in the gasoline goes out the tailpipe and into the radiator or heater core.

Whenever the heater is on, the car will run on the engine (hitting on all cylinders) so that heat can be generated. Toyota and other engineers are away ahead of your friends and really want to sell hybrids in all countries!

The electric motor generates very little heat. This is one of the drawbacks of hybrids in cold climates; the electric motor does not come on enough. So the gas saving in winter is very small. The braking still charges up the battery of course.

Since the engine in the Prius is only 1.5 liter, it may take a little longer to get heat into the car. I would use a block heater to speed up the process.

In larger hybrids, the electric motor acts more like a “green supercharger” since the hybrid function is used to get extra performance without increasing engine size.

Hope this throws some light on the subject.

In Hybrids, the air conditioner compressor may be electric, and with that there is always the possibility of Yes I said it, a heat pump.

Of course you (Toyota) can reverse the A/C to act as a haet pump, and put more BTUs in the cabin. At this stage this has not been deemed necessary, since the standard heater delivers enough FREE WASTE HEAT to the passengers. The Prius is first and foremost an economy car, and all components are focused on maximum mileage. Running the A/C as a heat pump would reduce the mileage. I think there may be areas of Northern Canada and Alaska where this might be beneficial.

Hell, southern Ontario when it hits -20 makes it useful to use the A/C as a heat pump.

Oh, by the way, your friends are wrong. Hybrids can make the cabin as warm as a normal car can. Indeed, many compact cars have a similar sized engine in them, and they warm up just dandy.

A heat pump for a car would most likely only supplement the primary heat. A heat pump does not need the car to warm up before it start heating, check this out http://www.sanden.com/products/electric.html

Your fried is wrong. While I don’t really think hybrids are the way to go for most of us, this is not really a problem. For the most part they are a reasonable choice for many consumers.

We ALMOST bought a Hybrid last year. My wifes commute and yearly mileage is PERFECT for a hybrid. The ONE thing my wife didn’t like was the no heat. Yes there’s heat…But it takes LONGER to heat up then a conventional car. Our neighbor owns a hybrid civic and his commute is barely long enough to get the heat on. There is heat…it just takes longer because the engine isn’t always running to generate the heat. You may want to get the heated seats if it concerns you.

On a Civic Hybrid I would recommend a block heater on a timer which comes on 2 hours before you start the car. That gives very quick warmup. We recently had a severe cold snap and both are cars ( Nissan & Corolla non-hybrids) were plugged in before starting them. Even on short 5 mile trips, the engines fully warmed up and the heater put out suffucient BTUs. I believe the Civic HYbrid turns it engine on and off, unlike the Prius, where the engine runs all the time when the heater is on.

Heated seats a standard in my pair of Subaru’s I imagine available in Camry’s work beyond well at keeping you warm in an instant(you feel warm in about 1 min of driving no matter what the temp out). I usually shut our off after 3 mins of driving even though heat has not kicked on.