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An Introduction to Hybrid Vehicles


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The word hybrid when used in biology means a mix between two species. So, how does this translate to the popular vehicle? It is exactly that, a mix between two species of cars.

A Hybrid car combines two technologies to produce a more fuel efficient result. It combines a gasoline powered internal combustion engine with electric motors to power an automobile. The increased interest in Hybrid cars comes from the failure of either technology to offer an acceptable method for propulsion. Each had its own set of problems, and combining them seemed to offer a compromise solution.

There are a few standards that are used to define an acceptable automobile. It must be capable of moving at a speed that allows it to keep up with traffic at highway speeds and it also must have a cruising range of at least several hundred miles without refueling, or in the case of electric cars recharging. Gasoline powered automobiles had no problems meeting the minimum standards of speed and cruising distance, but they create environmental and cost issues because of their reliance on petroleum based gasoline for propulsion.

When alternatives were sought to gasoline powered vehicles, electricity was considered as an option. Several models of electric powered cars were developed, but they could not overcome the lack of cruising range problem. The electric batteries had a limited storage capacity and the cars were only capable of traveling a limited number of miles before they needed to be recharged. The recharging process was time consuming and made long trips in electric cars impossible or too time consuming.

The Hybrid car was a compromise between the two types. They have both an electric and a gasoline powered engine. In many cases the gasoline engine is used to power a generator that continually recharges the batteries of the electric motors. This eliminates the need to stop to recharge the batteries. The Hybrid cars use several other technological innovations. One example is regenerative braking. This is where the kinetic power of the electric engine is used to slow down the car and actually recharges the electrical engines during the braking process.

The Hybrid car has moved out of the experimental stage and several are in full production. Others are in the final stages of production and several new models are expected to be released in the coming years. The increasing cost of gasoline is keeping interest in the very economical Hybrids high, and the Federal Government is offering tax credits to further encourage the purchase of them. It seems to be the consensus of many in the auto industry that there is no one good solution to the problems of propulsion for the automobiles of the future. This feeling has led to the idea that maybe a combination of factors is the best approach.

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