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How Hybrid Cars Work Essay

4519 words - 18 pages

How Hybrid Cars Workby Karim NiceHave you pulled your car up to the gas pump lately and been shocked by the high price of gasoline? As the pump clicked past $20 or $30, maybe you thought about trading in that SUV for something that gets better mileage. Or maybe you are worried that your car is contributing to the greenhouse effect. Or maybe you just want to have the coolest car on the block. The 2000 Honda Insight hybrid electric carCurrently, Honda and Toyota have the technology that might answer all of these needs. It's the hybrid car, and both manufacturers are selling their versions in the United States. You're probably aware of hybrid cars because they've been in the news a lot. In fact, most automobile manufacturers have announced plans to manufacture their own versions. How does a hybrid car work? What goes on under the hood to give you 20 or 30 more miles per gallon than the standard automobile? And does it pollute less just because it gets better gas mileage? We'll help you understand how this amazing technology works. We'll show you what is going on in the Toyota and Honda hybrids, and even give you some advice about how to drive one for maximum efficiency! What Makes it a "Hybrid"?Any vehicle is a hybrid when it combines two or more sources of power. In fact, many people have probably owned a hybrid vehicle at some point. For example, a mo-ped (a motorized pedal bike) is a type of hybrid because it combines the power of a gasoline engine with the pedal power of its rider. Hybrid vehicles are all around us. Most of the locomotives we see pulling trains are diesel-electric hybrids. Cities like Seattle have diesel-electric buses -- these can draw electric power from overhead wires or run on diesel when they are away from the wires. Giant mining trucks are often diesel-electric hybrids. Submarines are also hybrid vehicles -- some are nuclear-electric and some are diesel-electric. Any vehicle that combines two or more sources of power that can directly or indirectly provide propulsion power is a hybrid. The gasoline-electric hybrid car is just that -- a cross between a gasoline-powered car and an electric car. Let's start with a few diagrams to explain the differences. Figure 1 shows a gas-powered car. It has a fuel tank, which supplies gasoline to the engine. The engine then turns a transmission, which turns the wheels. Figure 1. Gasoline-powered carMove your mouse over the parts for a 3-D view.Figure 2 below shows an electric car, which has a set of batteries that provides electricity to an electric motor. The motor turns a transmission, and the transmission turns the wheels. Figure 2. Electric carMove your mouse over the parts for a 3-D view.To learn about the structure of a parallel hybrid car and a series hybrid car, go on to the next page! Hybrid StructureYou can combine the two power sources found in a hybrid car in different ways. One way, known as a parallel hybrid, has a fuel tank, which supplies gasoline to the engine. But it...

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