Have 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, $30, $40 or even $50, maybe you thought about trading in your car for something that gets better mileage. Or maybe you're worried that your car is contributing to the greenhouse effect.
The auto industry has the technology to address these concerns. It's the hybrid car. There are a lot of hybrid models on the market these days, and most automobile manufacturers have announced plans to manufacture their own versions.
How does a hybrid automobile 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? In this article, we'll help you understand how this technology works, and we'll even give you some tips on how to drive a hybrid car for maximum efficiency.
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. In fact, 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. Most hybrid cars on the road right now are gasoline-electric hybrids, although French car maker PSA Peugeot Citroen has two diesel-electric hybrid cars in the works. Since gasoline hybrids are the kind you'll find at your local car dealership, we'll focus on those in this article.