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What are hybrid cars and how do they work?

What are hybrid cars and how do they work?

Hybrid Cars Let's face it – cars are hard on gas, and with the rising price of oil nowadays, gas for the family car is a fairly costly expense. The hybrid vehicle uses less fuel, saving you money and safer for the environment. Though there are a few different types of hybrid vehicles, the term most commonly refers to the hybrid-electric vehicle, which uses electric batteries and an internal combustion engine (ICE) to power an all-electric motor. Owners of hybrid vehicles also enjoy a longer battery life due to regenerative braking. The most common hybrids currently available are produced by Ford, Mazda, Nissan, Honda, General Motors and Toyota.

There are a number of different types of hybrid vehicles available today: series hybrids and parallel hybrids, parallel typically being the most common. Series designs consist of an ICE that powers an electrical generator instead of the drivetrain. The series hybrid works by means of electricity from the generator distributed to the motor and propelling the car, where any excess energy is used to keep the batteries charged. When very powerful propulsion is required, electricity is derived from both the generator and the batteries. This particular design reduces the need for a transmission because the electric motor works well during a variety of speeds. The series hybrid has one major disadvantage for consumers: the efficiency of the motor and generator is lower than that of a normal vehicle transmission. What's more, the wheel power is limited by the electric motor. The series may interest a consumer whose driving will include many stops and starts, such as busy city driving. The ICE in this case delivers enough power at a nonstop, very efficient rate, but if one is interested in doing a lot of highway driving it is best to bypass the series hybrid in favor of the parallel design. Parallel designs are the hybrids most often produced in today's market. In such a model, the electric and ICE, which is often the dominant part used for the most power, connects to a transmission. In this case a motor only turns on when a short boost of power is needed. Most parallel models consist of a generator and motor in one existing unit and a large battery pack is present as well. A full hybrid refers to a vehicle that can run on an engine or batteries alone, or can run on an efficient combination of both. One example of the full hybrid is the Ford Escape, which can be propelled by means of battery power alone. An internal computer is responsible for determining which part should be providing the power or if both should be at work, and the ICE automatically turns off when the motor is enough to provide the power needed. In this case propulsion is a result of electricity only, and fuel is burned only when extra power is needed or when the batteries are exhausted, resulting in nearly 100% gains in fuel economy compared to four door sedan style cars. The input-split hybrid vehicle requires a single power split device and has a very simple set up. There are many drawbacks of this particular design though, one of which being that the maximum speed it can reach is limited. In turn they are less efficient at higher speeds. The combined-split hybrids are currently still in the making, with the addition of a second planetary gearset and two clutches, thus enabling more efficient switching of gears during both low and high speeds. The assist hybrid typically uses the engine for most of its power needs, and there is an electric motor that can assist when the driver demands extra power. Assist hybrids cannot operate on electric power alone. The mild hybrid are just like normal conventional vehicles but they have larger starter motors, meaning the engine can turn off whenever the car is braking or stopped, but can restart very quickly when needed. When the engine is off the car's accessories can operate under electrical power and regenerative braking replenishes the battery life. These models do not offer the fuel efficiency of other hybrids on the market; they typically save the driver about 10%. A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is a full model and is able to run on electricity only. These are referred to as gas-optional, and their main advantage is that they do not require gasoline for in city or highway driving. A hydraulic hybrid uses hydraulic parts in place of electric ones. The generator is replaced by a variable displacement pump and the batteries are replaced by a hydraulic accumulator. This accumulator is much cheaper and longer lasting than batteries. Pneumatic hybrid vehicles use compressed air for power. These particular models are being tested in France, and a company in Australia is currently working with Ford to develop such compressed air powered vehicles. The high-power biodiesel hybrid uses a combination of fuels for power, such as soybean oil, and is still in the experimental phase but will someday become a reality. They are said to offer excellent fuel efficiency, much better than anything currently on the market. Most modern day hybrids run on gasoline. Diesel engines are present in some hybrid models, which are more energy efficient than gasoline engines. There is speculation that some companies have developed a hybrid model that runs on hydrogen fuel.

To sum up, hybrid cars are more efficient due to a much smaller ICE, and a system of regenerative braking that results in less wear on the brakes and aids in recharging the batteries. They typically provide better fuel economy, thus are less polluting to the environment, and there is limited wear on the engine. Hybrid vehicles are quieter to run due to the use of an electric engine. Research shows that the best rated hybrid car today is the Toyota Prius, giving consumers 60 mpg/city and 51 mpg/highway. The Prius has a roomier interior than its competitor, the Honda Civic. The Ford Escape is voted the number one Hybrid SUV, offering the lowest purchase price and giving 28 mpg/mixed driving.




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