Advantages and Disadvantages to Owning a Hybrid Vehicle

What are the new hybrid cars that are available on the market?

Any car or vehicle that combines more than a single source of power can be called a hybrid vehicle.

Today most of the hybrid vehicles on the road combine gas and electricity to provide the power for the propulsion to the vehicle. Diesel-electric hybrids are the new upcoming hybrid that offers even greater fuel efficiency with the new VW car being introduced to the American market. So how does this most popular vehicle hybrid (gas-electricity) work?

The basic principle behind the workings of this hybrid vehicle system lies in the combination of the two sources of power-a gas engine and a high powered battery both provide power for running the electric motor that runs the car. In hybrid cars the batteries don’t need to be charged externally because they charge themselves by recapturing the energy that is generally lost when a vehicle decelerates or slows down.

Another seemingly obvious benefit is that they save on the amount of fuel giving more miles per gallon of fuel as opposed to cars that run only on fuel. Even though in principle the workings of hybrid cars are the same (a combination of the gas engine with an electric motor working in harmony) the combination varies between different kinds of hybrids.

In some hybrid cars, when extra power is required, the electric motor is used only to provide assistance to the propulsion created by the fuel engine. The two functions (the electric motor and gas engine) have to take place separately as the electric motor cannot work independently and the battery also can’t get charged and provide power to the electric motor at the same time. The term given to these types of hybrid cars/vehicles is generally referred to as mild hybrids. Examples of cars that fall into this category are Honda Civic (2004 and 2005) hybrids and the Honda Insight.

On the other hand, once certain conditions are achieved, there are other kinds of hybrid cars where the electric motor, run by the battery can work independently of the gas engine. This happens mostly when the car is cruising at low speeds, once the car requires more power to run at higher speeds the gas engine takes over. The third phase where both systems work together is when the vehicle is traveling at very high speeds. Another benefit to this type of hybrid vehicles are known as the ‘full hybrids’ is that the battery can both get charged and provide power to the motor at the same time. Examples of cars that fall into this category are Ford Escape, Toyota Highlander and Honda Civic (2006 and above).

Currently most of the hybrid cars that are available, due to this still being developmental technology, cost as much as some of the most expensive cars on the market, this leaves them out of reach for most people. Until they start being commercially produced in large enough quantities to force the prices down they will they then provide some benefit to the community. Another problem that is foreseen with these types of hybrid vehicles is the design of the batteries that have been built to last less than a 10 years. Not a very ecologically sound design!

One big plus for American owners of hybrid cars are that currently they are enjoying tax credits of $2,000 to $50,000 from the I.R.S.

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