Hybrid​ ​Cars:​ ​The​ ​Real​ ​Story​ ​Behind​ ​This​ ​Popular​ ​But​ ​Confusing​ ​Vehicle

Hybrid cars: the words have been tossed around for a long time. Inventors, car manufacturers, engineers and scientists are moving forward to make cars and their emissions less damaging to the environment, run cleanly and more efficiently. But, if you’re like most people, the concept of a hybrid car is confusing.

What exactly is a hybrid car? How do they work? And, as blogger asks, is one of the new hybrid green cars in your future?

What Exactly Is a Hybrid Car?

There are, in fact, different levels of hybrid vehicles manufactured today. For example, many gas-powered vehicles manufactured add levels of hybridization that include electrification, but are not full hybrids.

According to , hybrid vehicles combine the benefits of electric and gas powertrain motors and, working together, eliminate the limitations of each. Electric motors accelerate quickly to maximum power from a dead stop. Internal-combustion motors can’t do that. Electric batteries capable of powering long distances, however, are bulky and heavy.

Although great strides are being made to improve the efficiency of electric batteries, gas engines, albeit smaller more-efficient these days, are still the best option for long distances.

The Innovative Technologies Behind Hybrid Vehicles

Whether it’s more power or better fuel efficiency, today’s use advanced technologies to take advantage of both electric and gasoline motors.

For example, gas engines are least efficient at propelling a vehicle at slow speeds. In a hybrid, the more effective electric motor steps in to propel the vehicle at lower speeds. An electric motor may also assist when passing or climbing hills. Electric assists in various maneuvers means a much smaller gas engine is required to power the vehicle.

In a non-hybrid gas vehicle, much energy is lost during braking or coasting. Hybrids, however, use regenerative braking systems which recaptures lost energy from braking. The energy is then regenerated to make electricity for the electric motor which in turn helps slow the vehicle.

Hybrids also utilize the automatic start/stop function to automatically shut the engine off when the vehicle stops and starts it up again when the accelerator is pressed. Energy wasted from idling is thereby eliminated.

Hybrid Types Explained

Micro, mild, full and plug-in hybrids — what’s the difference?

The differences include the level of hybridization and how the vehicle runs and is powered. Here are the facts:

  • Micro and Mild Hybrids: These models utilize some form of electrification. Typical uses include the start/stop. Other uses include active safety systems, increased torque and power up driver assist.
  • Full Hybrids: Full hybrids run on electricity. They only run a limited time, at slow speeds and with gentle throttle.
  • Plug-in Hybrids: Plug-ins, just as the name implies, must be plugged in to charge the electric battery. Typically using a parallel design, where the motor can be run by either the gas or electric motor, plug-ins use electricity to a range of up to 35 miles before switching to gas. If a commute is short, it’s possible to make a trip only using electrical power.

What About Maintenance?

Maintenance is always a concern when you own a car, hybrid or not. The good news about hybrids however is that they require no special maintenance beyond the norm. Depending on the model, hybrids are just as, if not more, reliable than the average vehicle. Coolant changes on some models may be slightly more complicated and expensive in hybrids than regular cars.

Hybrid Vehicles and Your Future

Auto manufacturers are at the forefront of developing more efficient and cleaner running vehicles. It’s likely you’ll purchase a hybrid vehicle someday. As always, when it’s time to buy, do your research and compare brands before you buy. Indeed, some things about buying a car will never change.

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