Understanding the Hybrids As They are Here to Stay.

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When the first hybrid cars hit the showrooms roughly two decades ago, they were dismissed as science projects. But now hybrid powertrains can be found in everything from high-end supercars, to humble taxis, and even in commercial vehicles. As automakers continue to innovate and push towars more electrification with the ultimate goal of phasing out the internal-combustion engine, hybrids will likely become even more numerous over the next decade or so. But if you’re unsure as to what exactly a hybrid is and how it works, we’ve got the answers. And if you’re interested in buying one, we’ve got a few tips for picking the best hybrid car for you.

In the wake of hybrid vehicle it time we understood what hybrid really means. A hybrid vehicle is a vehicle that combines more than one power source to drive the vehicle. The most popular type (at the moment) combines electric energy and an internal combustion engine. An all-electric vehicle (like the Nissan Leaf or Tesla cars) is not a hybrid since its only power source is from the battery pack.

Hybrids work in a few different ways. Typically, a battery powers an electric motor until the car reaches a certain speed and then a small internal combustion engine takes over. The internal combustion engine can also act as the primary drive system if the battery is depleted. Chevy’s Volt works a little differently in that most of the time the electric motor is propelling the car and the internal combustion engine is keeping the battery fully charged (or attempting to do so).

If you are looking to get into a hybrid purely to save money, you might be barking up the wrong tree (er, driving down the wrong back road). It is true that hybrids are coming down in price and the government is still offering some subsidies, but how much you save all depends on how much you drive. One of the added benefits of a hybrid beyond maybe saving money, however, is they generally pollute less. Sometimes it’s a lot less. And that’s a breath of fresh air.

About a decade ago the research and development to hybrid cars kicked off in most the car manufacturing board rooms with the Chevy Volt looking to make significant changes in order to stay competitive and to raise sales figures. It has yet to be the seller Chevy hoped it would be. Honda’s best attempt at chasing down the Toyota Prius and according to this review, it comes ever so close. You could even say it beats the Prius, in a way, because the Accord is big, big car. Ford’s attempt seems like an honest one, but it just can’t match the Honda Accord or Toyota Prius when it comes to fuel economy. But it’s not always about the numbers, right? Well, Ford hopes that’s the case. Still, the C-Max is not another wedge-shaped driver. It’s European through and through and maybe that’ll be enough to spark some interest.

Do you want a German car that gets the fuel economy of a hybrid? Up until now, VW’s answer was: try our latest diesel car. But Americans are a funny lot and we don’t want ​to use diesel. We want our gasoline burning cars. We just don’t want them to burn that much gasoline.

The most obvious example of a hybrid vehicle is the Toyota Prius, which is the car that in 1997 started the mass-market hybrid economy vehicle trend that millions have come to enjoy. And the reason why hybrids are intensely popular is because they reduce one of the highest costs of ownership: fuel consumption. Remember this guy? The 1997 Toyota Prius was the first mass-market hybrid vehicle.

Better fuel economy is the primary motivation behind hybridization. But more recently, automakers are noticing that hybridization benefits performance. We’ll get to that in a second … In essence, a hybrid’s electric motor gets its juice from an on-board battery pack that usually sits in the trunk behind the rear seats or in the floor pan to lower the center of gravity for improved handling. A very insightful information that I come across during my research is that a Toyota Prius used a single tank of gas to travel from Dubai to Riyadh a covering a total distance of around 1740 kilometers.

When certain driving conditions favor the use of only the electric motor, such as driving below a certain speed or sitting at idle, the engine remains off and thus burns zero gasoline. When the battery level gets to a certain depletion level or if heavy throttle loads are required, the gasoline motor automatically kicks in to assist both in recharging the battery and propelling the drive wheels.

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