Archives – March, 2012
The Toyota Prius was essentially the first popular hybrid car on the market. While most people liked the idea of purchasing a car that is ecologically friendly, few had the funds to purchase the new technology. As more competition starting showing up in the marketplace, prices began to fall to levels that are more reasonable. However, hybrid cars are still more expensive than a regular gas powered car. You’ll find that insurance also cost more for a hybrid.
Research and Development
Although we already have hybrid technology, researchers continue to look for ways to better the system. Finding a better way to hold electricity without the heavy batteries is the main goal. The research being done on different ways to power hybrid and electric cars may have far-reaching effects one day. It takes a lot of money for research and developing new ideas. There are always many great ideas that just do not seem to work out, and it is back to the drawing board again.
As you know, hybrid cars have two engines rather than the standard one. It only makes sense that an automobile with two engines would cost more. The electric motor starts the car moving and will continue until the car reaches around 30 mph (each car model may be different). Once the speedometer reaches 30 mph, the gas engine kicks in. The gas engine has all the parts a regular car has and then on top of that, you have to add the equipment that is required for an electric engine. It is the batteries that add most of the additional cost.
Because hybrid technology is still relatively new and in flux, the components to make hybrid cars are expensive. As parts become more commonplace, prices will eventually come down to where the normal person can buy the new technology.
When the Prius first came to America in 2007, the prices were higher than most could afford. Marketing targeted the high-end consumer with things like leather seats, GPS navigation, sunroofs and top line audio. As the technology has been perfected and hybrid cars become more popular, the prices have started to come down. They are still, however, more than a normal car.
This is probably one of the main reasons that hybrid cars cost more than a normal, gas powered automobile. Factories originally designed for gas-powered engines have to be redesigned or expanded to accommodate the manufacture of the electric portion of a hybrid.
Keywords: hybrid, batteries, electric car, gas engine
March 30, 2012
Prius has grown up and produced a family sized car. With V standing for versatility, this car certainly lives up to the name. Toyota has manufactured a family friendly car that still gets an average of 42 mpg. The new Prius V is roomier than the Prius with 6 inches added to the length and 3 inches added to the height. There is plenty of room for the kids in the back. The interior is roomy, the ride quiet and smooth.
If you are responsible for taking the teams gear to events, you will not have any trouble stowing it anymore. There are 34-cubic feet at the back of the rear seats. If you need more room, you can recline and fold the rear seats. For really long stuff, the front passenger seat folds flat as well, for a total of more than 68-cubic feet of storage.
For power, the Prius V runs with a 1.8-litre, four-cylinder gasoline engine, which shares the load with a pair of electric motors working off of a nickel-metal hydride battery. The two together offers up 134 horsepower and 153 pound-feet of torque. The duo provides an EPA rating of 44 mpg in the city and 40 mpg on the highway.
The Prius V comes in three flavours: Two, Three, and Five, each one with varying degrees of standard equipment. Standard equipment starts with the Prius V Two and builds on it.
Prius V Two Standard Equipment
- 16” alloy wheels
- Keyless ignition
- Tilt and telescoping steering wheel
- Height-adjustable driver seat
- 60/40 split folding rear seats that slide and recline
- Climate control
- Fold-flat front passenger
- Cruise control
- Six-speaker stereo/CD sound system
- USB/iPod audio interface
- Bluetooth connectivity/streaming audio
The Prius V Three adds:
- Voice controlled navigation system
- Satellite radio and HD radio
- Toyota’s Entune, their multi-media text-to-voice function and app capability
- Rear-view camera
The Prius V Five adds:
- 17-inch alloy wheels
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Fog lights
- Automatic LED headlights
- Upgraded upholstery (Toyota’s SofTex)
- Heated front seats
Also available on the Five:
- Adaptive cruise control
- Navigation system based on a hard drive and a larger touch display screen
- Automated parallel parking
- Eight premium speakers
- Pre-collision safety system
- Toyota’s Safety Connect
Loosely translated from Latin, prius means ‘ahead of the curve,’ and with the growing Prius stable Toyota really has been ahead of the curve with this popular hybrid car. With over 1 million Prius cars and Prius accessories sold in the U.S. there doesn’t seem to be any chance it will disappear into the background. Consumers now have the Prius and the Prius V from which to choose. We understand that Toyota has a few more types of Prius coming along soon.
March 29, 2012
When people say hybrid, they automatically think of a technology that combines a traditional internal-combustion engine with an electric motor to propel a car. But, the truth is that there are numerous other technologies that can be used in order to create a hybrid car. However fuel efficient and less damaging for the environment the petroleum/electric hybrids may be, they are still using some form of polluting fuel. Some hybrid owners are not entirely concerned about the environmental impact. The truth is that green cars have gained in popularity because fuel costs increased dramatically. The hybrid gained acceptance when they were advertised as eco-friendly solutions.
Nowadays, several technologies have been developed and numerous others are being researched in order to create a new hybrid car, a high mileage vehicle. The current methods include a combination of electricity propulsion and various alternative fuel solutions, such as ethanol, compressed air, or liquid propane. Perhaps the most amazing of all the hybrid vehicles developed is the water-powered hybrid.
Water electrolysis, which is the foundation of this concept, is a process that was researched, documented and demonstrated by William Nicholson and Johann Ritter in 1800. The process would be used to separate chemical components using electricity in numerous applications. In hybrid cars, it is about separating hydrogen from oxygen using a direct current. The product which results from water electrolysis is oxyhydrogen, which is the cleanest fuel ever produced.
When a fuel is assessed to prove its use for propelling a vehicle, there are two main considerations:
- If the fuel is used for a conventional internal combustion engine, what is the byproduct that results after its combustion?
- How much energy can be produced using a particular amount of fuel compared to other existing fuels?
The first consideration evaluates environmental impact. When it comes to water, the byproduct of combustion would be steam and that can, by no means, represent a threat to the environment. The second consideration is the financial part. Normally, gasoline is used as a benchmark to compare other fuels as far as energy efficiency. How much energy can be contained in the same amount of hydrogen compared to gasoline? The answers vary from 50 to 70%, but it must also be remembered that this is a technology that is still in its infancy. The best things are yet to be discovered, but the fact is that cars can be propelled using water and that makes water the hybrid technology of the future.
March 26, 2012
The fuel efficiency of hybrid cars depends entirely on batteries. Batteries are also the component that allows cars to be eco-friendly. These are two different aspects: one has a cost-saving purpose, while the other is focused on preserving the environment.
Hybrid cars are called hybrids because they do not use a single technology to propel a vehicle. They employ both electricity and another type of fuel.
In most cases, this other type of fuel is combusted in a conventional engine resulting in emissions that are released into the atmosphere. In order for a car to be completely zero emissions, it would have to depend solely on electricity.
The purpose of hybrid technology is to improve battery efficiency. Batteries are sources of energy that is produced by a chemical reaction. Basically, a battery is a tank of energy but, just like all tanks, it needs to be refilled.
Refilling in the case of batteries would be charging, but charging is not always practical. What hybrid manufacturers discovered was that they could use other forms of energy to turn into electrical energy and store it in the battery in order to increase the charging interval. Internal combustion engines produce energy and breaks produce energy, too. A generator takes this energy and makes it electricity that is stored in the car batteries. Another way to maintain the level of energy in a battery is to save energy. So hybrids, turn off the engine when idle, for example.
All of these things allow batteries to be efficient and yet maintain a modest size. The rule for batteries is simple, the larger the battery, the more energy it can store. Currently there are three main types of batteries used on the market:
- The lead-acid battery is well known and has been used and is still used in conventional cars. These are very toxic and the combination of these batteries and hybrid technology seems to defeat the very purpose of hybrid cars: protecting the environment.
- The NiMH or the nickel-metal hydride battery is considered less toxic than lead-acid batteries. Numerous hybrid cars have adopted this type of battery including the Toyota Prius.
- Lithium-ion or the Li-ion batteries are very popular because they are the least toxic. It is also used in hybrid cars although it is mainly employed to charge small electronic devices. However, they seem to represent the future of hybrid cars batteries.
March 26, 2012
Hybrid cars, just like all other types of vehicles, can fall under a certain category depending on their body style. Therefore, there are hybrid vehicles that can be considered sedans, coupes, pickups, SUVs, luxury, as well as vans. Here are some important tips on which models are mostly appreciated in each category.
Sedan Hybrid Vehicles
Nissan Leaf is considered the world’s first affordable and zero-emissions vehicle. An electric motor that generates 80KW and 280 Nm, and lithium-ion batteries that generate 90kW power it. It can be charged at 80% of its capacity in less than 30 minutes. It has a driving range of 100 miles and it is characterized by a V-shaped aerodynamic design.
Chevrolet Volt is a series hybrid that is completely different from a parallel hybrid. It has a driving range of 40 miles and can be recharged on 110V power in 8 hours and in 3 hours at 220 V power.
The same category of hybrid cars includes Toyota Prius Liftback, Honda Civic Hybrid, Honda Insight, Lexus Ct 200h, and more.
Coupe Hybrid Cars
Honda CR-Z Hybrid falls in line with 35 mpg city and 39 mpg highway as far as fuel efficiency. It employs the hybrid system called Integrated Motor Assist, specific to the manufacturer. An electric motor is integrated between the engine and transmission.
In the same category of vehicles, you have Mitsubishi iMiEV, Fisker Karma, and others.
GMC Sierra Hybrid. Although hard to imagine a pickup as a hybrid vehicle, the GMC Sierra can be a big surprise. It comes with the same system that is used on the Chevrolet Silverado. The pickup is propelled by a 6.0 liter V8, 322 HP gasoline engine, a two-mode transmission, with a 300 V nickel-metal battery. The transmission of the GMC is referred to as an electrically variable transmission or EVT and is responsible for most of the fuel efficiency. The EVT consists of two electric motors with a 60 kilowatt power output for each of them.
In the same category you can check out the Ford Transit Connect (electric), Ford F150, and Chevrolet Silverado.
SUVs Hybrid Vehicles
Ford Escape Hybrid is a SUV that has a 155 HP, 2.5-liter lean burning gasoline engine under the hood. In addition, it also comes with a permanent magnet motor which generates 94 HP. A planetary gear sends the combined output to the continuously controlled transmission that moves the front wheels.
In the same category of hybrid SUVs you have the Lexus RX450h, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, and others.
March 15, 2012
Hybrid cars are especially known for fuel efficiency and low emissions. These are two aspects that people associate hybrid vehicles with; and they are correct. However, very few actually know the mechanisms that trigger the efficiency behind hybrid cars. Here is some important information on hybrid cars, their benefits, and how they do it.
- Hybrid vehicles are the perfect combination of a smaller size conventional engine and an electrical motor. What makes the hybrid an incredible achievement is the fact that it can use both engines to accomplish the most power when needed. It basically generates power by choosing between the most appropriate solutions given the driving circumstances.
- The battery is essential for the hybrid car. The electric battery not only stores, but it absorbs energy that it reuses when called for. Energy is additionally generated from braking and it is stored in the battery for future use. The battery becomes the perfect tool to generate electricity when needed.
- Most hybrid vehicles shut down the engine in traffic stops. In addition, they do the same in any other idle periods such as coasting. Thus, electricity use is maximized and fuel efficiency as well.
- As you probably noticed, hybrid cars have a special design. Aerodynamics or the shape of a car, makes it go slower or faster through the air and thus consuming more, or less energy. Adequate aerodynamics can maximize fuel efficiency and optimize car performance.
- Tires play a great role in hybrid cars. They are carefully chosen to provide low rolling resistance. Just like aerodynamics, tires can slow down a car. If a car slows down, you need more energy to propel it. More energy is fuel, no matter what the power source. Therefore, hybrid car manufacturers are choosing low rolling resistance tires that allow the car to drive smoothly on the road using the least amount of fuel.
- Reducing mechanical losses by adopting a smaller engine. That is a first and most important issue. The same mechanical losses are reduced by using various auxiliaries as needed and when needed. Therefore, air conditioning system, power steering, and others are used when necessary and at the optimum level required by the existing circumstances.
These are the features that contribute to the efficiency of hybrid cars. It is obvious that particular models have specific techniques to become efficient. Still, most hybrid cars work in a similar fashion and employ the same means to be efficient. How efficient they are is what eventually differentiates them.
March 15, 2012
Everybody knows of the existence of hybrid cars. They are generally catalogued as expensive but highly efficient. Although hybrid car technology is still in its infancy, the industry is taking important steps to take the hybrid technology to the top.
The Power Trains of Hybrid Cars
The main difference between hybrid cars and traditional cars is that a hybrid car has two power trains: an electric motor and a gas-powered motor. The purpose is to use the electrical motor in low-power situations and the traditional motor in high power situations. The electrical motor derives its energy from a battery, while the traditional engine works with fuel.
Recharging of the Battery
It sounds great but how does it actually work? The car switches to the traditional engine once the battery is depleted or when driving conditions are difficult and require more power. The battery is recharged by the rotation of the traditional motor. There are hybrid car models which use the braking momentum and turn it into electricity through generators attached to the breaking system. This energy is then redirected to the battery which is thus recharged.
The Differences Between Power Trains
Unlike the internal combustion motors, the electric motors can produce maximum power from a full stop. They can also stop the car without using the brakes. A vision for decades, the electrical motor is very efficient when accelerating. However, in order to be powerful and provide energy for high power situations, they require huge, heavy and expensive batteries. Technology is advancing and it is highly probable that some invention will reduce battery size.
Meanwhile, hybrid cars provide the best of both electric engines and traditional engines. Naturally, hybrid cars are initially more expensive than conventional cars simply because they have two motors and large battery packs. On the long term, the fuel and maintenance savings make up for the higher purchasing price.
Types of Hybrid Cars
There are two main types of hybrid cars, depending on whether they can drive by relying entirely on electric power.
- Full hybrid cars are mainly relying on the electric motor and they only use the traditional engine when the situation demands higher acceleration. They start off silently and they are very efficient as far as fuel consumption. The engine can even turn itself off at low speeds.
- Mild hybrids on the other hand are working just the opposite and are using electric motor just to supplement power to the traditional motor. They are not as efficient as full hybrids as far as fuel consumption goes and they are a bit more expensive, as well.
March 9, 2012
The fact that hybrid cars are somehow more expensive than conventional cars makes people forget the efficiency of hybrids in general. In fact, the initial cost of a hybrid car is soon paid off by the fuel efficiency of the car on the long term. Hybrids are conceived to use less fuel whether that fuel is diesel, gasoline or ethanol. In fact, the very essence of a hybrid and the very purpose of a hybrid are to reduce fuel consumption and thus the impact on the environment.
How Does It Save Gas?
The hybrid car requires two power trains in order to propel the car. The point is to use the less powerful, but non-pollutant and energy-saving electrical motor when the driving conditions do not require exceptional power. The electric engine uses the electricity stored in the batteries thus saving a lot of your gas consumption. This is how the hybrid usually saves gas:
- The gasoline engine turns off at red lights and when coasting or idling, diminishing the amount of gas used to propel the car.
- The electric engine takes over in low-powered traffic situations and thus it reduces the fuel consumption.
- The brake momentum energy is stored by a generator and used to power the batteries of the electric engine.
- The electric engine provides full power right from the start without having to accelerate and consume fuel in order to reach a certain power level.
Things to Know About Hybrid Cars and Fuel Efficiency
The hybrid car is saving gas by definition. The simple fact that it has an electric engine that supplies part of the driving force is enough for the hybrid to be considered a fuel-efficient car. Naturally, hybrids can save more or less fuel depending on the type of technology they are using and your driving habits.
Fuel can be measured in gallons, but it can also measured in money. Some fuels are more expensive than others are and also prices are different from country to country and even from to neighborhood.
Some cars are full hybrids and others are mild hybrids. The full hybrid vehicles use mainly the electric engine and they are not as powerful but they are definitely consuming a lot less fuel. Mild hybrids use less the electric engine and they are not as fuel efficient as full hybrids but they are still more efficient than conventional cars. No matter how you look at it, hybrid cars are cost saving solutions when it comes to conventional and even alternative fuels.
March 9, 2012
If you have wanted to enter the field of luxury cars, but haven’t purchased one yet because you’ve been waiting for a ‘green’ car, then here is what you’ve been waiting for: the 2012 Lincoln MKZ Hybrid.
When people think of American luxury cars, there is Cadillac and there is Lincoln. Lincoln has a long reputation in the field of luxury cars. It makes sense that they would get around to offering an entry-level, luxury hybrid sedan.
Great Gas Mileage
The Lincoln MKZ hybrid is based on the Fusion hybrid from Ford, but it has a distinctive look and personality of its own. The large front grill announces that something special is right behind it. This car is more than eye candy however, and gets 41 miles per gallon in the city and an estimated 36 on the highway. Other than plug-in types of hybrids, the MKZ gets the best gas mileage to comparable hybrids of its type.
The great gas mileage can mean significant savings. For example, a person driving the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid who travels 1,000 each month can save about $1000 per year (at around $4.37 per gallong) when compared to the same gas-powered only luxury sedan in the same class. And, J.D. Power and Associates ranked the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid and the gas-only MKX among the top three in their class for durability.
The Power Plant
The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid is powered by a 2.5 liter Duratec Atkinson-Cycle inline-4 Hybrid engine with 16 valves, and an electric motor that is powered by a nickel-hydride battery. The combination offers 191 horsepower. The MKZ also offers power steering, front-mounted rack-and-pinion steering. Sitting on great 17-inch, machined aluminum wheels with 9-spokes and painted pockets, the MKX also offers power disc brakes on all four-wheels with an anti-lock braking system and electronic distribution of brake force and regenerative braking. You’ll also find a rear electronic parking aid with ultrasonic sensors and rear window defogger.
On the inside, you’ll find yourself in the lap of luxury. The cockpit includes wood accents and seats five adults with a roomy 37.8 inches of headroom, 42.3 inches of legroom in the front, and 42.3 inches in the back. The front bucket seats recline, have leather seating surfaces and are heated and cooled, which compliments the automatic zone climate control in the front. Other amenities include AM/FM radio, 6-disc CD changer, 9 speakers, an MP3 player and six months of Sirius Satellite radio.
Other standard features of the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid includes luxurious power windows, power door locks, 2 power outlet in the front, delayed power retention (for putting up windows after the ignition is turned off), tilt-steering, trip computer, cup holders, reading/map light, lighted vanity mirror, a remote tailgate release, and heated side mirrors. With awesome features of Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, everyone is going to love the luxury car.
March 2, 2012
Many people are not sure what the difference is between a hybrid car and an electric car. The confusion is understandable, since both types use electricity to propel the vehicle. A hybrid vehicle, however, uses a small conventional engine plus an electric engine. An electric car has only an electric engine and needs to be charged through an electrical outlet. There are also other kinds of ‘green’ cars as well. There are solar and natural gas powered vehicles, although they have not become as widespread as hybrid vehicles. Currently the most popular hybrid cars are the Honda Civic, Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius.
If you have been thinking of buying a hybrid vehicle, here are some points that you might want to check into and not believe everything you’ve heard about this kind of vehicle.
1. Hybrid batteries will freeze easier at low temperatures.
Actually, the opposite is true. The nickel-hydride batteries in most hybrid cars are more resistant to cold and work better than the average car battery at low temperatures.
2. When driving a hybrid car in reverse, the gas engine does not work.
When moving in reverse, the electric motor is what is doing the work.
3. Hybrid cars get astronomically high gas mileage.
Although hybrid cars do get better gas mileage than autos with conventional engines, it depends on how you drive, too. Hybrids get better mileage when driving short distances, around town for instance. Mileage drops when you hit the freeway. Most hybrids boast around 40 miles per gallon but your mileage will probably be somewhere below that since we all don’t drive under controlled situations, like the EPA does.
4. Hybrid car batteries don’t last very long and have to be replaced.
Hybrid batteries do eventually have to be replaced, just as a conventional battery does. The majority of hybrid cars come with an 8-year warranty, or 100,000 miles from the manufacturer. Hybrid cars in California are required to cover 10 years or 150,000. Driving an average of 10,000 miles a year, that’s doing to be 10 years. Most people don’t keep their car that long.
5. Hybrids have to be plugged in and charged overnight.
As mentioned earlier, only fully electric cars need to be charged. The battery of a hybrid is charged by the action of the brakes. It’s known as regenerative braking. Each time the brake peddle is pressed it charges the car’s nickel-hydride battery.
6. Hybrids are ‘gutless’ and have no horsepower.
While this may have been the case in earlier models, technology has greatly improved performance in hybrid cars. Horsepower runs from 440 to 98 horsepower. While they may not win any speed races, when you want to merge onto the highway or pass a truck, the power will be there when you want it, even with ‘only’ 98-horsepower.
March 2, 2012