How Hybrid Cars and Plugin Hybrid Vehicles Work

By dancurranjr On March 28th, 2009


Increasing concerns about the environment and petrol prices are driving the market for Hybrid Electric Vehicles or HEVs. The advantage of HEVs is that they combine the benefits of petrol or diesel engines with electric motors. By doing this they can be configured to meet different objectives like improved fuel economy, power increases or they can provide additional auxiliary power for electronic devices and power tools.

Technologies Used in Hybrid Vehicles

HEVs typically work by using a combination of:

  • Regenerative Braking
  • Electric Drive Motors or Electric Assistance
  • Automatic Start and Stop

Regenerative Braking

When braking, instead of the electric motor driving the wheels, the wheels drive the motor that then functions as a generator, converting energy that is normally wasted into electricity that is stored in a battery until next required by the motor for driving and acceleration.

Electric Motors

The electric motor can be used to provide additional power to help the engine when accelerating, passing or climbing hills. With this assistance the petrol engine can be smaller and more efficient. At low speeds the vehicle may use the electric motor alone.

Automatic Start and Shutoff

Automatic start and shut off eliminates energy being wasted when the vehicle is idling. When the car stops, so too does the engine and electric motor. Pressing the accelerator automatically restarts the engine. Auxiliary systems like the radio and air conditioner continue to function when the engine and motor are switched off.

Plug In Hybrids

Plug in hybrids use the electric motor as the sole source of propulsion for the vehicle. The batteries can be charged by plugging the vehicle into a standard or heavy duty power outlet. When the batteries get low while driving, the petrol engine is used to run a generator that charges the batteries. As long as the vehicle is only driven within the range of the electric motor and batteries, the petrol motor need never be used and the vehicle can be driven as if it is a full electric car.

SOURCE: AZO Cleantech

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