How Do Hybrid Cars Work?

Hybrid cars, as the name suggests, are a fusion of electric cars and conventional cars, but how do hybrid cars work?   Electric cars make use of an electric motor powered by a rechargeable battery to run the car.  Conventional cars run mostly on gasoline and some other fuels derived out of processing petroleum. Hybrid cars are a cross between electric cars and conventional cars as they work on a combination of an electric propulsion system along with some amounts of gasoline, often mixed with ethanol.


Porsche Mixte
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The first hybrid car was designed in the year 1901 by Ferdinand Porsche and it was named ‘Mixte’.

Conventional cars have been criticized severely by environmentalists time and again. Tailpipe emissions are made up of a number of gases such as Carbon Monoxide, Carbon Dioxide and Hydrocarbons which are together known as the Greenhouse Gases.  Greenhouse Gases do not allow the excess heat of the earth to escape into the atmosphere. This increased level of heat is raising the temperature of the land and the water and is posing a considerable threat to the earth and to mankind as a whole. Hybrid vehicles are extremely efficient in this context as they have reduced tailpipe emissions and hence do not contribute to the dangerously rising levels of Greenhouse Gases in the atmosphere.

How do hybrid cars work

The question how do hybrid cars work, can be classified into two separate categories. The two categories are that of the engine powered by petroleum and that of the engine aided by an electric charge. Let us first discuss the working of the engine working on petroleum fuel. This category of engine can be used to propel the car only when the electric motor is being run at an extremely slow and measured speed. The gasoline motor can also be utilized to add an extra boost to the engine at instances when the car requires additional power, such as that of climbing up an inclined road or a steep hill. Some of the examples of cars belonging to this category include the Toyota Prius and the Ford Escape Hybrid.

Let us consider the example of the Toyota Prius. When the car is started up, the engine continues to work by the assistance of the electric motor until the car reaches a speed of 25 mph. When the engine is accelerated further and the car begins to move beyond this speed, the gasoline engine comes to life and starts propelling the system. If the car is subjected to excess acceleration from the moment of starting up, the gasoline engine takes over automatically.

The working of electric assist engines is somewhat different. In cars using this technology, the electrical engine is brought into use only when there is a need for extra power. In other words, the electric engine is used only to give a push to the car in conditions of traveling uphill or on harder terrain. Cars like the Civic Hybrid and the Honda Insight work on the basis of an electric assist engine. These cars make use of the electric engine only when the driving circumstances are such that there is need for extra force and power. These cars function better in conditions of cruising on the highway as the driving conditions then do not strain the engine much and hence fuel economy is bettered.

Therefore when asked how do hybrid cars work, the answer will depend on the model and type of hybrid engine arrangement.

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