After more than ten years on the market, hybrids still confuse car shoppers. The first hybrid vehicle hit the roads in Japan back in 1997. That same vehicle, the Toyota Prius, came to the U.S. and other countries early in the 2000s.
In a recent survey, it was found that few consumers knew that hybrids had batteries inside and only two-thirds of those polled knew that hybrids had batteries and gasoline motors. The survey also found that many of the shoppers thought that you had to plug in all hybrids. Only 50 percent of those polled knew that a plug-in hybrid can run purely on electricity, and many had no idea they used gasoline as well.
The folks at Bob Tyler Toyota want to do their part to help everyone understand hybrid vehicles a little better. The definition of a hybrid:
- Noun: A thing made by combining two different elements; a mixture.
- Adjective: Of mixed character; composed of mixed parts.
Some people have probably owned a hybrid vehicle at some point. For example, a mo-ped, or motorized pedal bike, is a type of hybrid because it combines the power of a gasoline engine with the pedal power of its rider.
Most of the locomotives we see pulling trains are diesel-electric hybrids. Cities like Seattle have diesel-electric buses that can draw electric power from overhead wires or run on diesel when they are away from the wires.
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. Most hybrid cars on the road right now are gasoline-electric hybrids
A gas-powered car has a fuel tank, which supplies gasoline to the engine. The engine then turns a transmission, which turns the wheels. An electric car, on the other hand, has a set of batteries that provides electricity to an electric motor. The motor turns a transmission, and the transmission turns the wheels.
The hybrid is a compromise. It attempts to significantly increase the mileage and reduce the emissions of a gas-powered car while overcoming the shortcomings of an electric car.
To be useful your car should be able to:
- Drive at least 300 miles (482 km) before re-fueling
- Be refueled quickly and easily
- Keep up with the other traffic on the road
In a hybrid, the gasoline engine and the electric motor work together. Initially the electric motor and batteries provide all of the power. That's usually why, when you first put a hybrid in gear, you don't hear anything except the sound of the wheels rolling on the pavement.
Then, there is this piece of equipment called the power split device. This is a gearbox that hooks the gasoline engine, generator and electric motor together. As the car accelerates, the generator spins at whatever speed it needs to in order for the engine to remain off. Once you reach a speed of about 40 mph, the gasoline engine will turn on. If you are really accelerating hard, the motor will draw extra power from the batteries. Once you are up to freeway speed, the car will move under a combination of gas and electric power, with all of the electricity coming from the generator.
People buy hybrid vehicles to reduce tailpipe emissions and to improve mileage. These goals are actually tightly interwoven. 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 to decrease emissions.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is another type of pollution a car produces. The U.S. government does not regulate it, but scientists suspect that it contributes to global warming. Since it is not regulated, a car has no devices for removing CO2 from the exhaust. A car that burns twice as much gas adds twice as much CO2 to the atmosphere.
Auto makers in the United States have another strong incentive to improve mileage. They are required by law to meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. The current standards require that the average mileage of all the new cars sold by an auto maker should be 27.5 mpg. By the year 2025, this figure will be 57.5mpg.
So, in the long run, a hybrid vehicle, using electric and gas power to motorize their vehicle is going to ultimately save you money at the gas pump, allowing you to utilize that money in any way you wish.
Bob Tyler Toyota
7201 Pensacola Boulevard
Pensacola, FL 32501
Sales (850) 478-9999
Toll Free (888) 496-8207
Fax (850) 477-9669
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