This is a sponsored post by Dale Cooper.
Hybrid cars were the first alternative fuel vehicle available on a wide commercial scale. The most familiar hybrids are hybrid electric vehicles, which combine an electric motor with a small gasoline engine. The term “hybrid car” has a broad meaning, and refers to any vehicle that uses more than one fuel source to accelerate. So how exactly do hybrid cars work, and how might the technology develop in the next decade?
How hybrids work
The most common hybrid cars are mechanically sophisticated vehicles that use an onboard computer to alternate between gas and electric power. A large battery is charged via a kinetic energy recovery system, which captures energy that would otherwise be lost through regenerative braking. The battery uses this captured energy to power an electric motor while the vehicle is traveling at low speeds. When the hybrid car reaches a certain speed, usually about 40 miles per hour, the onboard computer activates a small gasoline motor that powers the vehicle. The computer allows the hybrid car to use whichever power source is most efficient at a given time, and is responsible for the hybrid vehicle’s excellent fuel efficiency.
Types of hybrids
In addition to the common hybrid electric vehicle, there are several other types of hybrid cars that may become the next dominant automotive technology. A few of these hybrid cars include:
- Diesel hybrids: Since diesel engines have a better fuel economy than gasoline engines, diesel hybrids could become the next popular green vehicle.
- Flex-fuel hybrids: Using an ethanol mixture as its fuel source, flex fuel hybrids operate similarly to a typical hybrid electric vehicle.
- Plug-in hybrids: This type of hybrid vehicle uses an external power source to charge its battery, rather than relying solely on regenerative braking.
The future of hybrids
As battery technology improves, car batteries will get smaller, more efficient and less expensive. Some think that plug-in hybrids will become the dominant hybrid technology, since they’ll be the best equipped to take advantage of developing battery technologies. But since hybrid cars use more than one fuel source, they are inherently complex; it’s possible that a simpler automotive technology, such as the electric vehicle, could eventually make hybrid cars obsolete.
No one knows for sure what the future of hybrid technology will look like, but it’s clear why hybrid cars are the most popular alternative energy vehicle available today. With excellent fuel efficiency and a relatively small carbon footprint as compared to traditional gas-powered cars, hybrid cars are an environmentally friendly way to save money on gas. Another simple way to reduce automotive expenses is to re-evaluate your car insurance company. By comparing several online car insurance quotes, it’s possible to reduce your insurance bill by hundreds of dollars every year.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by mil8