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Currently, Honda and Toyota have the technology that might answer all of the customers needs like the high price of gasoline or the contribution to the greenhouse effect. It's the hybrid car, and both manufacturers are selling their versions in the United States. In fact, most automobile manufacturers have announced plans to manufacture their own versions.
Any vehicle is a hybrid when it combines two or more sources of power. In fact, many people have probably owned a hybrid vehicle. For example, a moped (a motorized pedal bike) is a type of hybrid because it combines the power of a gasoline engine with the pedal power of its rider.
Hybrid vehicles are all around us. Most of the locomotives we see pulling trains are diesel-electric hybrids. Giant mining trucks are often diesel-electric hybrids. Submarines are also hybrid vehicles - some are nuclear-electric and some are diesel-electric. Any vehicle that combines two or more sources of power that can directly or indirectly provide propulsion power is a hybrid.
You can combine the two power sources found in a hybrid car in different ways. One way, known as a parallel hybrid, has a fuel tank, which supplies gasoline to the engine. But it also has a set of batteries that supplies power to an electric motor. Both the engine and the electric motor can turn the transmission at the same time, and the transmission then turns the wheels.
In a typical parallel hybrid you'll notice that the fuel tank and gas engine connect to the transmission. The batteries and electric motor also connect to the transmission independently. As a result, in a parallel hybrid, both the electric motor and the gas engine can provide propulsion power.
By contrast, in a series hybrid the gasoline engine turns a generator, and the generator can either charge the batteries or power an electric motor that drives the transmission. Thus, the gasoline engine never directly powers the vehicle.
Hybrid cars contain the following parts: gasoline engine, fuel tank, electric motor, generator, batteries and transmission.The hybrid car has a gasoline engine much like the one you will find on most cars. However, the engine on a hybrid is smaller and uses advanced technologies for reducing emissions and increasing efficiency.
The fuel tank in a hybrid is the energy storage device for the gasoline engine. Gasoline has a much higher energy density than batteries do. For example, it takes about 1,000 pounds of batteries to store as much energy as 1 gallon (7 pounds) of gasoline.
The electric motor on a hybrid car is very sophisticated. Advanced electronics allow it to act as a motor as well as a generator. For example, when it needs to, it can draw energy from the batteries to accelerate the car. But acting as a generator, it can slow the car down and return energy to the batteries. The generator is similar to an electric motor, but it acts only to produce electrical power. It is used mostly on series hybrids.
The batteries in a hybrid car are the energy storage device for the electric motor. Unlike the gasoline in the fuel tank, which can only power the gasoline engine, the electric motor on a hybrid car can put energy into the batteries as well as draw energy from them.
The transmission on a hybrid car performs the same basic function as the transmission on a conventional car. Some hybrids, like the Honda Insight, have conventional transmissions. Others, like the Toyota Prius, have radically different ones.
The reason for building such a complicated machine - when most people are perfectly happy with their gasoline-powered cars - is twofold: to reduce tailpipeemissions and to improve mileage. The amount of pollution allowed does not depend on the mileage your car gets. But a car that burns twice as much gas to go a mile will generate approximately twice as much pollution. That pollution will have to be removed by the emissions control equipment on the car. So decreasing the fuel consumption of the car is one of the surest ways of decreasing emissions.
The key to a hybrid car is that the gasoline engine can be much smaller than the one in a conventional car and therefore more efficient. The gas engine on a conventional car is sized for the peak power requirement In fact, most drivers use the peak power of their engines less than one percent of the time. The hybrid car uses a much smaller engine, one that is sized closer to the average power requirement than to the peak power.
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