Hybrid vehicles utilize power from two (or more) distinct sources to drive the vehicle. The conventional
internal combustion gasoline engine
(sometimes atkinson cycle) is almost always one of the power sources.
This explanation on hybrid vehicles will be based on the gasoline-electric hybrid which is by far the most
popular type there is where electronic motors are used together with the engines.
Hybrids are sometimes considered to be a separate classification of vehicle although most of them are built
off an existing vehicle.
One of the reasons for the production of hybrid vehicles is to reduce the amount of harmful gasses entering
the atmosphere via vehicle exhaust. An electronic motor or any other alternative will produce fewer emissions.
Another reason for these vehicles is to generally reduce fuel consumption thereby reducing the fuel cost to
the hybrid owner. Fuel economy is sometimes improved by up to 50% in a hybrid compared to a non hybrid of the same
Gasoline-electric hybrids can be found powering any type of vehicle. From sedans,
sport utility vehicles/crossovers and even
vehicles known to be performance oriented.
Gasoline-electric hybrids can be classified into three categories. A few vehicles from General Motors/Chevrolet
will be used to explain.
The motor is integrated into the drivetrain of the vehicle or may form its own drivetrain. It is usually attached between
the engine and the transmission, it may replace the torque converter inside the
transmission or it may be directly connected to two of the wheels.
- A Mild Hybrid such as the Chevrolet Malibu Eco. The Malibu Eco is designed to have the electric motor as a
back up to the engine and extend the range of the vehicle between fill ups. The motor can't propel the vehicle by itself.
- A Hybrid such as the Chevrolet Cruise Eco. The Cruise Eco is designed to be predominately gas propelled but the
electric motor can be used together with the engine or can be used by itself for short distances.
- A Plug-in Hybrid such as the Chevrolet Volt. Plug in hybrids like the volt are the closest thing to an
electric vehicle. The battery on a plug in hybrid have to be charged by plugging it into
an external electrical outlet. It was designed to be driven by the electric motor and uses the petrol engine as a back up
when the battery is low or to extend the range between charging.
The addition of an electric motor increases the total torque and
horsepower ratings of the vehicle. The motor(s) may operate by themselves at idling and low speeds and it may add
power automatically to the engine when needed such as accelerating and hill climbing but because of battery capacity the motor
generally can't propel the vehicle for the distance a tank of gas will carry it.
Using the vehicle with gasoline alone, electric alone or using them together usually amounts to different
driving modes and the vehicle may have a switch to choose between them.
Other hybrid vehicles are powered by alternative sources such as hydrogen, liquid nitrogen, compressed natural gas (CNG)
and liquefied natural gas (LNG). These sources are basically low emission fuels that is used in the same internal combustion
gasoline engine that has been modified to accommodate ignition via gas and/or the alternative fuel. These vehicles also have
two fuel tanks.
Information relating to hybrid while in operation can be displayed on the
infotainment screen. These displays usually show which power source the vehicle is presently using, how much of that
power source is being used, present fuel efficiency and expected range.
The number of hybrid vehicles being sold worldwide is growing as the world is becoming more aware of the greenhouse
effect and people are concerned about fuel prices I see a bright future for hybrids.