With the price of oil skyrocketing lately combined with a growing interest in doing less harm to the environment, there has been a great deal of interest in hybrid cars over the past few years. Most major automobile manufacturers now have at least one model of a hybrid car in production, whereas just a short time ago they were a rarity. Hybrid cars differ from electric cars and cars designed to run on alternative fuels, but are also an alternative fuel option themselves. Below is our basic fact sheet on the subject of hybrid cars.
o Most hybrid cars out on the roads right now are gas-electric hybrids. Diesel-electric hybrid cars are only in the development/beginning stages for some manufacturers and in limited production by others.
o While a hybrid car has a gasoline powered engine similar to a standard car, the engine is much smaller however, and uses additional technology to minimize emissions while increasing efficiency.
o In addition to the gasoline powered engine, a hybrid car has an advanced electric motor which also acts like a generator at times.
o Almost all hybrid cars make use of a technology called regenerative braking that allows the car to recover energy through the slowing down process.
o A hybrid car’s batteries are where the energy made by the electric motor is stored.
o A hybrid car’s electric motor can put energy into as well as draw energy from the batteries.
o The transmission performs essentially the same functions in a hybrid car as it does in a standard car. Most hybrid cars have conventional transmissions, although some have very different ones altogether.
o Types of hybrid cars have been around and sold to the public sine the late 1800’s, including one manufactured by Porsche.
o A hybrid car has less wear and tear on its braking system thanks to the regenerative braking technology it uses.
o In one type of hybrid, called a parallel hybrid, both the electric motor and gasoline powered engine are connected to the transmission, giving both the ability to propel the car.
o In another type of hybrid, called a series hybrid, the gasoline powered engine provides power to the generator which can charge the batteries or provide power to the electric motor that has the responsibility of driving the transmission. In this type of hybrid the gasoline engine technically does not directly power the car.
o Studies indicate that a hybrid car puts out 80 to 90 percent less carbon monoxide and reactive hydrocarbons than a standard gasoline powered vehicle.
o Federal, state, and local governments are offering incentives for consumers to purchase hybrid vehicles. These incentives range from free meter parking to income tax credits.
o A plug-in hybrid car is a car that can also operate as a straight electric powered vehicle for shorter commutes and uses the additional gasoline engine power for longer commutes.
o Hybrid cars have reduced wear and tear on their gasoline engines because not as much fuel is run through them and not as much is required from them.
Hybrid cars have been both the beneficiary of and the inspiration for new technological developments in the automotive industry. Thorough testing has determined that some models of hybrid cars can be more fuel efficient than straight gasoline powered cars and at the same time be just as responsive and powerful. Hybrid cars remain today a viable option for families and businesses that want to reduce their reliance on petroleum, save money on fuel, impact the environment in a better way, or all three of those reasons combined.