• How Hybrid Electric Cars Work

    Green cars are definitely in demand these days and hybrid electric cars are among the ranks of them. For those who have grown up with an understanding of the internal combustion engine and the vehicles that are propelled by it, the concept of a hybrid car (or gas electric car, as you might call it) can seem alien. Hybrid car technology is advanced in many ways, but some of the basic concepts are actually quite simple.

    What is a Hybrid Engine?

    A hybrid engine is actually a two part engine. There are many types of hybrid engines in use in many types of operations from trains to bicycles. More often than not, the hybrid engines in cars, are gasoline electric hybrids. These have both an electric motor and a gasoline powered engine. The combination of the two engines working in unison is the reason these vehicles are called hybrids. While the concept of using both a fuel powered and an electric engine is one constant in hybrid car technology, there are some different strategies for how those two drive sources work together in use in different vehicles.

    Parallel Hybrid

    One type of hybrid vehicle is called a “parallel hybrid”. In this type of scenario, the gasoline (or diesel or other fuel) engine is still powered by gasoline and runs all the time. The electric motor runs off the battery power and also runs when the vehicle is in operation (as long as there is remaining battery power). Both power sources are used to move the vehicle, thereby reducing the amount of fuel needed for a given amount of movement. This makes the vehicle more fuel efficient by essentially using the electric motor to boost the power of the internal combustion engine.

    Series Hybrid

    Another type of hybrid vehicle is the series hybrid. In this type of scenario the gasoline engine is used to run a generator. That means the car runs entirely on electricity. The gasoline engine is used to create electricity. This electricity is used either to run the car (when the battery is fully discharged) or to charge the battery. There will be times when the gasoline engine won’t run at all.

    Plug-In Hybrids

    A newer type of hybrid that is emerging is the plug-in hybrid. It is a variant on the series hybrid. These cars have a cord you can plug in (most will charge using 110 volt power, but the charging time is seriously reduced with a 220 volt source) to charge the batteries when the car isn’t in use. This can help when you have depleted the battery’s charge and have been running on gasoline power for a while. When you stop and plug the vehicle into a power source, the batteries recharge, allowing you to revert to full electric operation again.

    Hybrid engines aren’t that complicated. When you understand they are really just a combination of two things, an electric motor and an internal combustion engine, you have taken the first step to really grasping the concepts of hybrid car technology.