What is a Hybrid Car?
What is a hybrid car?
Any vehicle which can be powered by two or more power sources is called a Hybrid vehicle. A hybrid car is a type of vehicle which uses both the electric motor and I.C. engine as a power source.
Quite simply, a hybrid combines at least one electric motor with a gasoline engine to move the car, and its system recaptures energy via regenerative braking.
Sometimes the electric motor does all the work, sometimes it’s the gas engine, and sometimes they work together. The result is less gasoline burned and, therefore, better fuel economy. Adding electric power can even boost performance in certain instances.
With all of them, electricity comes from a high-voltage battery pack (separate from the car’s conventional 12-volt battery) that’s replenished by capturing energy from deceleration that’s typically lost to heat generated by the brakes in conventional cars. (This happens through the regenerative braking system.)
Hybrids also use the gas engine to charge and maintain the battery. Car companies use different hybrid designs to accomplish different missions, ranging from maximum fuel savings to keeping the vehicle’s cost as low as possible.
How Do Hybrid Cars Work?
Working Principle of Hybrid Car
Hybrid vehicles are powered by at least two types of energy sources. The old hybrid vehicle had a stationary gas engine to power the generator. This generator was transmitted electrical energy to an electric motor mounted on the front wheel hub.
The latest hybrid vehicle uses a combination of electrical and fuel (petrol or diesel) power. This type of vehicle has a various number of electric motors.
A hybrid car works in the following way:
- First of all, the carburetor of the car engine sucks air from the environment and makes a mixture of the fuel-air mixture.
- The air-fuel mixture is sent to the compression cylinder of the I.C. engine.
- The compression cylinder contains a reciprocating piston.
- This piston compresses the air and fuel mixture. Due to high compression, the air-fuel mixture ignites, and power generates.
- The power produced by the engine is sent to the generator to generate electricity.
- The generated electricity is used to charge the car battery or to run the motor.
- As the power transfers to the battery, the battery stores it. This stored power is utilized to run the car when the engine is not working.
How does a Hybrid Vehicle charge battery?
It depends on the hybrid type. Most products, including plug-in and series hybrids, use a gasoline engine to generate electricity and charge the battery. Plug-in hybrids can also run-on mains electricity.
Parallel hybrids differ because they only charge the battery by absorbing additional energy and converting it into electricity. The extra energy, typically wasted when the car is idling or slowing down, is stored in the battery for later use (e.g., regenerative braking).
This “regenerative” charging is used in petrol engines and other hybrid vehicles.
Type of Hybrid Vehicles
In this most common design, the electric motor(s) and gasoline engine are connected in a common transmission that blends the two power sources. That transmission can be an automatic, a manual, or a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
One very popular hybrid transmission is a power-split CVT, which is used by the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt. Transmission type and the size of the gasoline engine are the main factors that determine how a parallel hybrid will accelerate, sound, and feel. Brands that use the parallel design include Toyota, Lexus, Hyundai, Kia, Ford, Honda, Lincoln, Nissan, and Infiniti.
In this design, the electric motor(s) provides all the thrust, and there is never a physical mechanical connection between the engine and the wheels.
The gasoline engine is just there to recharge the battery. This results in a driving experience that’s more indicative of an electric car, with smoother, powerful acceleration. There’s typically less vibration when the gasoline engine engages.
However, that engagement doesn’t always happen in concert with what your right foot is doing (remember, the battery is making the demands), so the engine might be revving up while the car is cruising at a steady speed. Some find this behavior disconcerting. The BMW i3 with the range extender is an example of a series hybrid.
A plug-in hybrid enhances the conventional hybrid concept with a much larger battery pack that, like an electric car’s, must be fully recharged using an external electricity source—from your home, office, or public charging station.
This greater amount of energy storage is like a larger gas tank: It allows for extended all-electric driving (between 15 and 55 miles depending on the model) and can significantly reduce fuel consumption.
In fact, if you have a short commute and recharge nightly, you’ll be running on electricity most of the time. Should you deplete the all-electric range, the car basically reverts to being a conventional parallel hybrid. The Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid (shown above) is an example of the plug-in breed.
The History of the Hybrid Cars
Introduction to the hybrid vehicle
Hybrid vehicles have a rich and illustrious history that is all their own. There are many different types of vehicles created over many different brands that go back decades in terms of the history that is behind them.
Since most of us first heard about hybrids like the Toyota Prius that do not have a history that goes back nearly that long, this might come as a bit of a surprise. However, a large amount of that surprise should be alleviated once we start by giving the true definition for what a hybrid vehicle actually is.
Defining the hybrid concept
Although all Toyota Prius hybrid products are indeed hybrid vehicles, the reverse is not the case. It is possible for something to be designed in a way that is completely different from the Prius yet still qualify as a hybrid and that is because of the definition of hybrid vehicles that is in use today.
This definition calls any vehicle a hybrid as long as it uses two distinct forms of power in order to provide locomotion to the vehicle. This means that any vehicle that powers your forward movement in at least two different ways could be called a hybrid vehicle.
Although hybrid electric vehicles like the Toyota Prius are the most common types of hybrids that are built today, you can definitely take a look around and see many non-electric hybrid vehicles in use today.