Hybrid Electric Vehicles - The Wave of the Future Hybrid Electric Vehicles - The Wave of the Future

Hybrid Electric Vehicles - The Wave of the Future

Going green does not mean you have to drive a car that goes only 35 miles per hour and is only good for town driving. To the average driver, this is not only inconvenient at times, but limits his/her mobility. On the market today is a vehicle that is called a Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) that not only gets good mileage and is environmentally friendly, but is convenient to drive.

What is a Hybrid Electric Vehicle?

In an HEV, both the technologies of electric cars and internal combustion engines are used. The internal combustion engine (ICE) is used for highway driving, and the electric is used for town and suburban driving. The beauty of the HEV is that both the electric motor and ICE can work in tandem with each other, making for a much better driving experience. The components of an HEV are:

* A gasoline engine
* Fuel Tank
* Electric motor
* Generator
* Battery pack
* Transmission

Let's look at how each of these work. The gasoline engine is much like you will find on standard cars, but is much smaller in displacement. It uses advanced technology to reduce emissions and increase efficiency. The fuel tank holds gasoline, again like a standard vehicle, to fuel the ICE. The electric motor on the hybrid is very advanced and is designed so that it not only powers the vehicle, but charges the batteries as well. The generator, similar to an electric motor, works to produce electrical power. The batteries, generally installed in the rear of the car, drive the electric motor. Its advanced design allows it to draw power from the batteries as well as charge them. The transmission on an HEV performs much as it does on a conventional car. Some vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius, have a radically different transmission. We'll discuss that later on.

What are the Design Elements That Differ From Other Vehicles?

The HEV uses two different design technologies to drive the vehicle. The parallel design allows both the engine and the electric motor to turn the transmission at the same time, and the transmission then drives the vehicle. The series design utilizes the gasoline engine to drive the generator, and the generator can either charge the batteries or power an electric motor that drives the transmission. In a series design, the gasoline engine never directly powers the vehicle. The beauty of these designs is that HEV's can be built to use the series configuration at low speeds and the parallel configuration for highway driving and acceleration.

Why is the Toyota Prius Different?

The Toyota Prius is different than most HEV's because of its radically different transmission. It uses technology called the Power Split Device. This allows the Prius to operate like a parallel hybrid. The electric motor will power the vehicle by itself, and both the electric motor and the gasoline engine can power the vehicle together. The power split device will also let the car operate like a series design vehicle. The gasoline engine then is used to either run the generator that charges the batteries or to power the wheels. The power split device also starts the engine. The Prius never needs to be recharged, because the onboard generator takes care of it.

Hybrid electric vehicles are very good on gas. Let's look at mileage ratings:

* Toyota Prius 60 mpg City 50 mpg highway
* Toyota Camry 33 mpg city 34 mpg highway
* Honda Civic 40 mpg city 45 mpg highway
* Honda Accord 24 mpg city 32 mpg highway
* Ford Escape 31 mpg city 29 mpg highway

Research also shows that previous mpg estimates were underestimated. They did not take into consideration hard acceleration, use of air-conditioning, or temperature variances such as extreme cold or extreme heat. The new ratings are more reflective of the real world experience.

The hybrid electric vehicle is the best all around choice for people on the go. he manufacturers have very extended warranties to insure that your vehicle is a good buy. Consider a hybrid electric vehicle for your next automobile. The planet will thank you.

Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to DoItYourself.com. He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.

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