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Future Cars In the Garage 2 - ICE Electric Hybrids
Repairing ICE-Electric Hybrids
The first wave of new tech vehicles has already begun. These are the hybrid internal combustion engine (ICE) and electric vehicles already on the roads and being built by nearly every major auto manufacturer in the world. Their names are already commonplace: the Prius, the Fusion, the Insight, and others.
These cars meld traditional and trusted internal combustion (usually gasoline) engines with new electric motors and components. These vehicles have a much higher efficiency than their non-hybrid, gasoline counterparts, but lose much of that due to their heavier weight and larger number of components and parts. This added complexity has proven to mean a higher price tag (in costs or purchase) that often cannot justify the boost in efficiency.
Most in the automotive business agree that ICE-electric hybrids are only a stepping stone to the next level of technology and will not likely have a manufacturing lifespan of more than a decade. Other, more efficient options are already coming quickly to replace them.
As an interim, however, they have proven popular and will be on the roads in greater and greater numbers over the next few years.
Maintenance and Repair Issues With Hybrids
For the most part, these vehicles have been easy for the current infrastructure to accommodate. Since most of their technology is the already-well-understood internal combustion concept, only the new electronic components need to be incorporated. Only recently have Toyota Prius hybrids become out-of-warranty vehicles facing this dilemma.
Most of the maintenance issues revolve around the standard ICE requirements: lubricant flushing and replacement, brakes, tires, and so forth. Recent recalls were handled by Toyota, but proved that many of the components in the hybrids are very much like their standard vehicle brethren and easily adapted to by mechanics and repair technicians.
A Current Hybrid Specialist and Her Shop, Luscious Garage
Luscious Garage, located in San Francisco, California, is an example of one of the new style of automotive shops going into business specifically to service hybrid and plug-in vehicles. Owned and operated by Carolyn Coquillette, herself now a well-known hybrid technician and hybrid technician certification trainer, she and her team have built a model repair facility for newer, greener service.
"The shop itself represents a departure from auto repair in the same way the hybrid does from the regular car," Carolyn says. Luscious Garage uses recycled or synthetic (non-petroleum) fluids, solar power for tools and building use, recycles nearly everything, and purchased most of its equipment and furnishing second-hand. The entire business is built around being sustainably green and low-impact to the environment.
This may be the future of automotive repair and service. The days of the dirty, greasy, and noisy service station may be numbered if Carolyn is any example.
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