Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

May 20

The Benefits of Hybrid Cars

Posted in Hybrid Cars | Transportation

Toyota Prius The soaring oil prices and the rising level of awareness among the masses regarding the rapidly deteriorating environmental conditions are compelling many car makers to switch over the developing hybrid cars. There are already more than one million hybrid vehicles running on American roads (May, 2008). Big car companies like GM and Toyota have already made big strides in this direction. In fact GM is cutting down on producing and marketing its behemoth gas-guzzling trucks and focusing more on lighter, fuel-efficient cars. The number one selling hybrid car is Toyota’s Prius. Incidentally, Toyota is far ahead in the race for producing hybrid cars.

The environmental concerns have even hit the stars of Hollywood: during the recent academy awards the gaudy limousines were not the most prestigious way of arriving and hitting the red carpet, it was coming in a hybrid car.

A hybrid car has two engines working under the hood. The first is an electric motor and the second is the good old gasoline engine. When your car is running at a constant speed or when it is standing but the engine is running, the gasoline engine automatically shuts off and the electricity part takes on. This helps a lot when you are stuck in traffic jams and your engine is running — lots of pollution is caused during the traffic jams. When you need to accelerate, the gasoline engine pumps in the requisite gas, and then again hands the control over to the electric engine.

This way the consumption of fossil fuel is cut down to almost half and so is the emission level. The noise pollution comes down too.

  • chasd60

    I think it is good to have the hybrids but I believe the auto makers are still dragging their feet. I owned a 1993 Geo Metro xFI that was EPA rated at 58mpg highway and 53mpg City. One would think in 15 years we might be doing a little better than the hybrids are doing today.

  • Bob Wallace

    Take your Metro and scale it up to Prius size.

    What sort of mileage do you think you’d get then?

  • Manuel Maniquis

    I read somewhere that hybrids are effective only in heavily congested roads where the traffic is stop and go like in New York city but not as effective in cities like Toronto.

    What must be actively pursued is the fuel cell vehicles so that we can get rid of our dependency on fossil fuels.

  • Bob Wallace

    Hybrids are more effective in stop and go traffic. But they still have highway advantages. And they are going to become much more cost efficient once we get plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). The Chevy Volt, for example, could be plugged in at night and then run 40 miles or so using zero petroleum.

    Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are not very likely in our future. It would take some major breakthrough in hydrogen production, transportation, storage, and ‘burning’ to make it a good fuel.

    If you start with 100 units of power, use it to crack hydrogen from water, move it to the individual consumer, and use it in a car only 30% or so of that original energy gets used to power the car.

    If you take the same amount of energy and use it to charge batteries and power a car about 60% of that energy is available to power the car.

    Hydrogen would require us to generate twice as much power and build an entirely new distribution system. We already have an electricity distribution in place. (Needs some upgrading in the long term, but it’s adequate to charge a whole bunch of EVs right now.)

    Current hybrids (Prius, Ford Escape) are transitional, “proof of concept” vehicles. People are driving them and finding out that the idea works. Next we’ll see PHEVs. Later on, as battery technology improves, we’re likely to see market-acceptable battery-only cars and light trucks (BEVs).

  • John

    The problem with hybrids is that they take 3 times the amount of oil to manufacture compared with a non-hybrid similar in size. If every car was built a hybrid than we would run out of oil in 15 years, not 45. Not to mention that we will eventually peak oil and then it will become too expensive to burn.

    I hope that the ignorance of the people in this country, will stop listening to the news, and actually think logically about the truth.

    Fuel Cells are an absolute joke. Any Chemist or Scientist knows that Hydrogen does not come naturally by itself. You must rip it off of a Carbon or Oxygen. It takes energy to rip that off, more energy than you get from the Hydrogen itself. Therefore, you invest more energy than your return. Where do you get this energy to rip off the Hydrogen? We don’t have enough wind mills, hydro-electric dams, or solar panels to equal the amount of Hydrogen to fuel this nation.

  • Virgínia

    We fly to the moon but yet we can not drive non pollutant cars.

    Hybrids are a good help but they are still very limited.

    I don´t have a car because i can not find a really green car. For the moment a live in a town with a good public transportation system but soon i will be forced to buy a pollutant car if i want to get to work cause were i am going it will take me 4 hours to make 70 kms using a public transportation system. This is very sad!!!

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