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What Is a Hybrid Car?

Jan 18, 2008
With the opening of the new year headlining oil costs rising up to a historic $100 per barrel, more and more Americans are now looking into the possibility of owning up their first hybrid car. Though, generally, American drivers have been immediately associated with gas-guzzling trucks or sports cars who trade oil efficiency for speed, the idea of paying up to $4 a gallon is creeping up to a mind-set of customers. Hybrid cars seem to solve this problem. Ironically, the hybrid car is also seen as environment friendly. This is the reason why car companies are in a race to seal victories with consumers.

What makes a car hybrid?

A vehicle can be considered a hybrid when it utilizes two different sources of power to allow the car function.

The most common hybrid vehicle on the roads right now is the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV). They use a conventional system of propulsion complemented by a rechargeable system for storing energy. A typical example would be cars with electric batteries added to the usual internal combustion engine.

How do the cars work?

Vehicles with electric batteries have been introduced in the early nineties but were not a big hit due to the major hassle of charging the vehicle and small number of charging stations. But hybrid vehicles have been able to solve this dilemma by recharging the batteries as the car spins.

All actions of the driver are monitored by an internal computer. From startup and into lower speed, the car is essentially driven using the electric motor. If computer feels that you want to accelerate faster, it will immediately kick in the gasoline engine to provide you the power that you need. At the same, the electric motor is now acting like a generator and recharging the battery in your car.

The electric motor also assists the gasoline engine when needed. This explains why most engines found on hybrid cars are smaller since they eliminate the need for high-powered ones that consume a lot of gas. As you slow down, the power is again shifted to the electric motors until you reach to a full stop.

The results

Most hybrid drivers immediately notice the absence of the common engine noise that they get used to when starting up and when kicking into high gear. This is because of the fact that the electric motors are generally quitters plus the gasoline engines used are smaller. The tandem also proves to be beneficial by reducing the wear and tear on the gasoline engine, adding more to its durability.

Reduced emissions on noise and air pollutants generally make hybrid cars more environment friendly. Though most people are concerned about the batteries and how they discarded, nickel metal hydride (NiMH) can actually be fully recycled. Car companies such as the frontrunner Toyota as well as Honda also provide clear assistance in disposing of the batteries being used by their cars.

Admittedly, the main reason why a lot of drivers are going hybrid is the surprisingly positive fuel mileage of a hybrid car. Recent EPA numbers show that the top two hybrid cars in the market get more than 40 miles per gallon while driving in the city. The Toyota Prius gets 48 mpg while the Honda Civics nets 40 mpg. Highway driving nets both cars 45 mpg, not that bad when paired with normal cars with bigger engines. This is again attributed to the fact that the fuel consumption is only used when driving at higher speed.

It is undeniable that hybrid cars are the future of the auto industry. With more and more consumers becoming concerned about mileage and the environment, we will be seeing more and more hybrid cars trek your local roads.
About the Author
Mark Robinson writes for Auto-Loans.GuideFin.com. Visit his website for information about car loans for people with bad credit.
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