Whats up with Hybrid Vehicles?

By: Diane Nassy

What's up with Hybrid Vehicles?

By Diane Nassy

If the price of gasoline has got you scared, and you're thinkingabout maybe trading in your car for a moped, you've got half thesolution right. It might be time to trade in your car, butforget the moped - get a hybrid car instead.

The dictionary defines the word hybrid as: Offspringresulting from breeding between parents of two differentspecies, and that's a good definition for our purposes.That's because a hybrid car has a power plant that's a crossbetween a gasoline powered engine and an electric motor.

What's the big deal about hybrid cars?

The automobile industry claims that a hybrid car can give you asmuch as 20 to 30 miles per gallon more performance than astandard gasoline engine. That means that you buy less gasoline,and buying less gasoline leaves more money in your pocket.You'll need that extra money, however, because hybrid cars arestill relatively expensive compared to traditionalgasoline-powered cars. As more hybrid cars are sold,manufacturing prices will drop, and that drop will be seen inthe selling price.

How does a hybrid car save gasoline?

In a typical automobile, the engine is connected to thetransmission via a mechanical link called the drivetrain. When the engine's sparkplugs fire, they ignitegasoline vapor which pushes a piston up and down. This pistonmovement gets transferred to the transmission via the drivetrain. The transmission turns the wheels and the car goes downthe road.

Well, the hybrid car is almost exactly the same except that inaddition to the engine being connected to the transmission, anelectric motor is also connected to the transmission. Actually,there are two different versions of hybrid cars. The one thatwas just described is called a parallel hybrid, becausethere are two different energy sources connected in parallel tothe transmission.

The other type of hybrid car is called a series hybridbecause the gasoline engine works in series with the electricmotor to power the car. This is accomplished by having thegasoline engine either charge the car's batteries, or power theelectric motor. The gasoline engine doesn't actually turn thecar's wheels at all.

The parallel hybrid operates off of the electric motor when thecar is being driven below a certain speed, and the gasolineengine kicks in when that speed is exceeded, or when sensors inthe car indicate that the driver has accelerated suddenly as ifto pass or to avoid an emergency situation.

Of course, the gasoline engine is always running even when theelectric motor is powering the car, so some gasoline is alwaysbeing used.

The series hybrid is always running off of the electric motor,which restricts the top speed of the car, and the gasolineengine only kicks in when the batteries need to be charged.

Like all automotive claims, your mileage may vary. Even so, ifyou're looking to spend less money at the gas station, and avoidmuch of the effect of rising gas prices, you might want to parka hybrid car in your garage

Mileage and Fuel
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