Posted on Mar 4, 2016 in Automobiles
It seems like there are more and more hybrids out there every day, but how do hybrid cars actually work? When it comes to automobiles, What does “hybrid” even mean?
More and more people are turning every year to hybrid cars, and whether it’s the promise of higher gas mileage and fewer fill-ups or just a desire to be more environmentally friendly, hybrids are flying off dealer lots at record pace. And while there’s no denying that hybrids use less gas to go further, the big question for a lot of people is “How do they do that?” Is it magic? Do they have a secret tank of unicorn farts that needs to be filled at the dealer? Is there some sort of Dorian Gray pact where they trade off mileage for stars exploding somewhere in the universe for every extra MPG they squeeze out? Well, I hate to disappoint you if you were hoping for something mystical – it’s all just science and technology.
A hybrid vehicle is, simply defined, a vehicle with two or more power sources in the drivetrain. To break it down to it’s simplest form, a moped can be considered a hybrid – you can pedal it like a bicycle, or you can let the engine do the work for you. When it comes to cars, it’s a bit more complicated than that, but the basic concept is the same, though instead of pedals and a 2-stroke engine you have a gas powered engine combined with an electric motor that share or trade off powering the car.
Now that we’ve gotten the basic definition out of the way, let’s take a little closer look at how they actually juggle the power sources to work their – well, magic, for lack of a better word. Don’t worry – I don’t have an engineering degree, and I’m assuming if you’re reading this you probably don’t either, so we’ll keep it simple.
As it stands right now, all gas-electric hybrid cars can be broken into three basic categories:
Series hybrids are capable of powering the wheels with the electric motor only, using the gas engine only to run a generator to charge the batteries the electric motor runs on, or to provide a boost of power to the electric motor under high power demands. Essentially, these are electric cars with a gas “booster.” These types of hybrids are particularly efficient in stop and go driving and at low speeds. The Chevy Volt is a plug-in series hybrid.
Parallel hybrids essentially work the other way around. They are primarily gas powered, and use the electric motors to supplement the power of the gas engine, while the gas engine in turn also helps keep the batteries charged. These hybrids are most efficient at a constant speed, such as highway driving. The Honda hybrids are parallel hybrid cars.
The third type is a combination of the two, and as such is called a series-parallel or power-split hybrid. This type allows either the gas or electric motor to directly power the vehicle, depending on the situation and which source would be more efficient and effective. The most popular power-split hybrid is the Toyota Prius.
All three types use something called regenerative braking to help slow the car down. When you press on the brake pedal, the kinetic energy of the wheels turning is converted by the electric motor to electricity and stored in the batteries for later use. This does two things – it reclaims energy normally wasted as heat in the brakes, and also helps slow the car down with less braking force required, helping you go longer between brake replacements.
Some hybrids also have the ability to shut off the gas engine when the car is stopped, then start it immediately upon pressing the accelerator so the car has adequate power to pull away from the traffic light, if the electric motor doesn’t have sufficient juice to provide the acceleration requested. The Prius and Honda hybrids are just a few that do this.
You must be logged in to post a comment.
7 collections of beautiful hand-drawn vintage fashions!
Available now for $5.99 each!
"A highly imaginative exercise in world building that also features characters it's very easy to care about." - Booklist
Download it now! Also in paperback, hardcover and audiobook formats
© Synchronista LLC. Format designed by Elegant Themes | Powered by WordPress