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Hybrid Cars - Use Electricity and Gasoline Together To Recharge The Earth - And Your Wallet
Hybrid cars can have very low to near-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The Toyota Prius for instance has near-zero tailpipe emissions and no evaporative emissions.
Hybrid cars combine the two energy components of petrol and electricity to produce a hyper-low emission, cheap to run, quiet motor vehicle that recharges itself as you drive. Good for planet earth, and for your wallet.
They are a new phenomenon as an individual passenger vehicle but are not otherwise. Diesel-electric locomotives, diesel electric buses and mining trucks, as well as diesel-electric or nuclear-electric submarines are all examples of earlier hybrid applications.
Hybrid car advantages
Very low greenhouse emissions
Low fuel cost
Reduces national foreign oil dependency
Good resale value
Overcomes limited drive range of electric car
Very low greenhouse emissionsAlmost 25% of CO2 emissions in the US come from vehicles. Low fuel costPetrol is only needed in situations of extra load and hybrids shut down instead of idling at lights. The 2006 Toyota Prius for example gets 60 miles to the gallon (US). There's a new Toyota concept car, the 1/X that aims for more than 100 mpg and the Honda Civic hybrid is also very competitive among hybrid vehicles.
Reduces national foreign oil dependencyWith a volatile international oil situation and possibility of peak oil, there was never a better time to switch than now.
Good resale valueIn the US, where there is a waiting list for buying some of these cars, resale value is good as people cannot wait to get into a hybrid. With production stepping up that resale value is expected to slide more towards normal levels over the long run.
Overcomes limited drive range of electric carA hybrid can give you a driving range of more than 500 miles without having to plug in your car to recharge.
IncentivesThere are incentives in the form of tax rebates on purchase price in the US and some states offer the use of low traffic lanes to hybrid cars. Reportedly, some companies like Google and the Bank of America even match their employees’ tax rebates on these cars.
Of course disadvantages too. There are always trade-offs.
High initial purchase price – about 30% higher than for conventional cars. However, offsetting this cost, US federal- and some state governments offer a "clean-fuel vehicle" tax refund, worth of up to $2000.
You may rejoice however - prices are coming down "as we speak."
How do hybrid cars work?
Big, conventional gasoline engines are really only needed for acceleration, overtaking or going uphill. When driving at a steady speed much of their capacity is not needed. You may only use around 20 horsepower to do that and to
run your airconditioning, power steering and lights
overcome friction from tires, transmission and brakes, and
overcome aerodynamic drag
Hybrids deal with these facts of car-life much smarter.
The combustion engine is much smaller than in a conventional car. This is because the two systems work together when greater power is needed, such as during acceleration.
A smaller engine means less weight and greater fuel efficiency. And fewer cylinders mean less fuel is used.
As petrol is only needed in situations where a little extra oomph is called for, your wallet is smiling. So is planet Earth, getting a little relief from its greenhouse gas headache through your efforts.
Essentially hybrid vehicles are made up of six interlinked parts
Fuel tank. The fuel tank stores the energy sources, petrol, for its gasoline engine.
Gasoline engine. It’s a much smaller gasoline engine compared to a conventional engine as discussed already. Unlike the electric motor, which can charge batteries and draw from them, it’s a one way street of fuel from tank to engine.
Electric motor. It has the dual functions of a motor and generator. It can act as a brake and transfer this braking energy to the batteries and draw electricity from the batteries when needed, such as during acceleration.
Generator. It produces electrical energy.
Batteries. These are the "fuel tank" for the electric motor.
Transmission. Like in conventional cars, the transmission transmits energy produced by the engine to the car’s wheels.
Two types of hybrids
Parallel. In the parallel hybrid car petrol and electric motor can power the transmission at the same time.
Series. In the series hybrid car the petrol engine never directly powers the transmission. It turns a generator instead. The generator will then either charge the batteries or power an electric motor that, in turn, drives the transmission.
Fuel efficiency of many hybrid models is further promoted by
A full hybrid, also called a strong hybrid can run on the engine alone, the batteries only, or on both. The Toyota Prius and Escape are examples.
Assist hybrids use a small gasoline engine for their primary power. The electric motor boosts torque when accelerating or in other situations where more power is required. The Honda Insight is an example of this approach.
A mild hybrid car is essentially a car with a conventional engine boosted by an oversized electric starter motor when extra power is needed. Fuel efficiency is lower than for full hybrids. The Chrevolet Silverado Hybrid, a pick-up truck, is an example.
Several other combinations of 'hyb' power are possible.
Which car makers do hybrids?
I am now going to tell you just a little bit about some of the hybrids in existence. Although things are moving so fast that new models are coming out almost as we "speak".
It is one of these things some of us can afford to do to reduce global warming. But it is a luxury to be able to do so compared with the majority of Earth citizens who may not ever have the money to even buy a bicycle for transport.
Even if everyone could afford one, the raw materials needed for 6 billion plus cars would obviously require more than our single planet Earth.
And I don’t think we’ve found another of those yet!