With fuel costs continuing to rise and the many environmental concerns with using a traditional gas engine vehicle, the need has arisen for vehicles that save on fuel costs and also are more friendly to the environment. To fill this need, hybrid cars have risen from relative obscurity to enjoy mainstream success with strong sales.
The general definition of a hybrid vehicle can be traced back thousands of years, even to ancient sea vessels that used the power of both wind and rowing. This term can refer to any vehicle that uses two or more methods of power, including gas, electric, natural gas, vegetable oil, fuel cells, ethanol and other biofuels.
How Does It Work?
While there are many different types of hybrid vehicles with different mechanisms for power, let’s examine one of the most popular hybrids on the road today, the Toyota Prius. The Prius uses both gas and electricity. Under the hood, it includes an internal combustion engine (gas engine) and an electric motor, with each system connected to each other and the vehicle through the vehicle’s transmission. For power storage, the vehicle uses a battery, which is also used to power the vehicle’s accessories like air conditioning and climate control. The electric motor and internal combustion engine work in parallel, which means that either or both can power the vehicle at the same time. Regenerative braking is also included in the Prius, which saves and stores kinetic energy while braking. The transmission of the Prius is a continuously variable transmission, which uses an onboard computer to eliminate the need for shifting.
In general, hybrid vehicles cost more upfront to purchase than a conventional vehicle with the same general specifications. A Prius, for example, costs between $20,000 and $24,000 depending on the options you select. A similar vehicle with a conventional engine can cost several thousand dollars less. Upfront, the costs are significantly higher. Over the long run though, a hybrid can save in fuel costs, thereby absorbing the upfront additional cost and then paying for itself in fuel savings over the course of years.
– Cost savings is a huge factor, while the savings may take a while to come to fruition, fuel efficiency and cost savings in the long run is a serious advantage
– Environmentally, a hybrid is a sound car to drive, with less gas needed and less pollution
– The hybrid cars of yesteryear, with their funny looks and funny names are being replaced by sporty and elegant looking hybrids, there are even SUV’s available that are hybrids. If looks were a concern then, they aren’t now.
Future Of Hybrids
The future is uncertain for hybrids, with so many other fuel saving and environmentally safe alternatives already in the pipeline or in development including many biofuels, fuel cells, full on electric powered cars, as well as ethanol making a huge splash, hybrids will need to evolve even further to keep their lead.