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Hybid Cars. What are they? How do They work? What’s the Advantage?

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By Charles A. Hersh

Hybrid cars are vehicles that include a motor/generator to assist both the engine and the brake. The motor/generator is attached to a relatively large rechargeable battery and the interactions between the engine and the other equipment are computer controlled. The motor/ generator assists the engine during acceleration by allowing the battery to power the motor/generator as a motor. When decelerating, the motor/generator acts as a generator and uses the car’s motion as energy to recharge the battery. This slows the car while assisting the brakes. Thus, part of the car’s motion is turned into electricity that is stored for reuse later when additional pickup is needed. No other gasoline car has this feature called “regenerative braking.” Conventional braking involves friction which literally “grinds to a halt,” wasting all the mechanical energy as heat. So you can slow your car down by storing some of the energy and using it later. Hybrid cars can therefore get better mileage especially in “stop and go” city driving. Engines and brakes can be made smaller and the engines can be redesigned to operate under a less variable range more efficiently. The engine is turned off when stopped, or even at low speeds. The motor is more efficient then and the engine can come on for recharging purposes. So is it worth it? Of course it costs more money for the additional equipment and design, but you may get much better mileage. If not worthwhile now, it will be in the future as the batteries get smaller and cheaper while fuel costs keep rising.

Recent Expansion of US Hybrid MarketEdit

As auto makers have come to see that consumers are responding to hybrid vehicles, they have made many more. Between 2000 and 2004, only 4 distinct lines of hybrid vehicles were available in the US. By 2008, FuelEconomy.GOV lists 16 distinct lines. However, while the impressive mileage of the first few vehicles produced (Honda Insight, Toyota Prius, Honda Civic) have stayed the same or gotten better, some models don't get significantly better mileage than their non-hybrid equivalents. The Wall Street Journal assembled an excellent comparison of the hybrid and non-hybrid versions of vehicles and their relative fuel economy. Chevy's Tahoe, for example cost more than $11,000 more than it's non-hybrid version, in order to achieve a mileage of 22 MPG. Other vehicles like the Lexus LS600H use the regenerated energy to increase the power of the vehicle, rather than to improve mileage.

If your objective is to save money, use less gasoline and/or reduce emissions, consider the facts of actual mileage, and also the total emissions of the vehicle.

ResourcesEdit

  • For automobile mileage ratings and additional information reference this Web Site:

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/bymanu.htm.

  • E-mail chuck101@optonline.net for further information.

Does recycling the car’s motion sound “strange?” Keep in mind - it’s all done with magnets.

Hybrid Model MPG City/HighwayEdit

  • Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid 18/21
  • Ford Escape Hybrid 36/31
  • GMC Sierra Hybrid 18/21
  • Honda Accord Hybrid 30/37
  • Honda Civic Hybrid 49/51
  • Honda Insight 60/66
  • Lexus RX Hybrid 33/28
  • Mercury Mariner Hybrid 33/29
  • Toyota Highlander Hybrid 33/28
  • Toyota Prius 60/51

Source: fueleconomy.gov 2006

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