Hybrid cars have been around for a while now, yet many people still don’t really understand what they are or how they work. The technology has come a long way since it was introduced and is now even used in supercars.
We expect automakers will keep pushing and innovating with hybrid technology so if you’re not yet up to speed, we’ve got you covered.
What is a Hybrid Car?
The term hybrid refers to a mixture of two or more elements into one. In the case of automobiles, hybrid refers to a car with both a combustion engine and an electric motor. The two work in harmony to provide power to the wheels to enable the vehicle to move.
The popularity of hybrids has grown thanks to their low fuel consumption and the associated cost savings. Because the electric motor works with the petrol engine, it reduces fuel consumption since the car doesn’t solely rely on a single engine.
How do Hybrid Cars Work?
Most consumer hybrid cars all function in a similar manner. A petrol engine takes on the primary load of the car, providing it power, while the electric motor uses kinetic energy to produce electricity. The electric motor relies on the petrol engine to help recharge its battery pack.
The electric motor in cars such as the Prius works to accelerate the car after it is turned on. This is what allows the car to be more efficient in terms of fuel consumption. Until a certain speed - 15 mph for a Prius - only the electric motor is used. The battery pack provides the power for the motor.
Once over 15 mph, the petrol engine starts to power the car. As the engine continues to power the car, electricity is produced with the help of a generator and stored in the batteries to be used later. When it comes to heavy acceleration, the gas engine and electric motor work together to generate additional energy.
As the brakes are applied, the regenerative braking system kicks in. Since power is no longer applied to the wheels, the generator within the car uses the spinning wheel to produce energy and store it in the battery for later use.
The computer within the car manages everything. It detects the conditions the car is driven in and the speed and prioritises using an electric motor where required, conserving as much fuel as possible.
The popularity of hybrid cars continues to rise, prompting automakers to invest more in the technology and introduce newer models so we expect to see more hybrid models on the road in the years to come.