The Hybrid Technology Future

Hybrid Cars
Hybrid Cars

When the Toyota Prius hit the market, many were enamored with the technology and the resulting fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, not many understand how this system works and the following are the basics on hybrid vehicle technology.

While first adopters and owners have an understanding of how a second powertrain helps in increasing mileage and fuel efficiency, many have not been able to accommodate new innovations such as the plug in hybrid technology and other improvements. The increased number of hybrid platforms has required clarifications on this kind of technology.

The basic system involves the pairing of an internal combustion engine with one or more electrical motors. These provide the driving force but the fuel is taken from high capacity battery array that releases energy to the motors together with one or more clutch mechanisms and controllers or capacitors that regulate the power generated in the vehicle.

The internal combustion engine is larger than the electric motor, as it provides more power during acceleration while the electric motor has a smaller output capacity. When the brakes are used, additional energy and power is generated and then captured for storage in the battery for later use.

The technology involved in hybrid vehicles is amongst the cutting edge in the market today, but the different car manufactures differ in design, functionality, efficiency and costing for these vehicles. To some extent, carmakers are trying to provide options for they hybrid market and an example is General Motors with three different hybrid platforms across many of its brands.

Despite the differentiated designs, the basic objectives remain the same. These include allowing each powertrain to operate efficiently, such as electric motors for better acceleration while gasoline engines would do more work when cruising down the motorway. Even the kind of fuel and which platform would be the main and which is the assist varies across makes and models for vehicles currently in the market today.

As the technology improves, the issues regarding the hybrid technology increase. This includes common nomenclature and even standardized measurements would come to fore. The cost of research and development would also increase tremendously, as the demand for efficiency and range further increases and the ultimate determinant would be the sticker price to the consumer. With all these that lie ahead, the hybrid vehicle surely would have a long way to go but is assured of a fulfilling future ahead.

Fuel Saving Technology Still Greek to Many

Electric cars
Electric cars

According to research by the firm Johnsons Control, consumers want to have fuel-efficient vehicles but are very confused about the choices on what technology is best for their purposes. The company specializes in lead acid starter batteries and start stop systems and its survey yielded that the resistance to change to fuel efficient hybrid autos is not cost of the technology, but confusion on which technology is the best.

The survey had 1006 respondents and it compared the four current automobile technologies, namely the standard internal combustion engine, the start-stop cars, hybrid electric vehicles and full battery electric cars.

In the survey, forty five percent of the respondents say that there are still too few choices of hybrid vehicles available in the market. Thirty nine percent had no idea as to the differences between the vehicle technologies. This confusion is about how the individual technologies differ, such as hybrids from standard internal combustion engines from start-stop vehicles. The conclusion reached is that there is a great need for informational and educational activities to apprise many common individuals as to the differing set-ups of the engine technologies. Also included in the information would be the costs at purchase and maintenance costs.

Another result of the survey is the perception of the technologies being more expensive, both in the short-term and the long-term. Here, the seventy five percent of potential car owners still opt for the standard internal combustion engine. Of this percentage, only twenty percent would opt for a hybrid, start-stop or electric vehicle, despite the skyrocketing costs of conventional fuels, reaching $4.00 per gallon.

The four engine types that were considered in the survey are as follows:

  • The Standard Internal Combustion Engine. These engines are the most common ones on the road nowadays, using gasoline and other fossil fuel for their power.
  • The Start-Stop Engine. This is an add-on to any other engine design wherein the engine allows to be turned off such as traffic stops and the engine re-engages when the driver steps on the gas or the clutch.
  • The Hybrid Electric Vehicle. This engine uses a marriage of the two existing technologies, namely the internal combustion engine and the electric engine. There are many differing kinds of hybrid designs, such as size of the engines as well as their interaction allowing for greater fuel economy and performance. The common designs are the primary internal combustion and then secondary electric engine and the primary electric and the secondary internal combustion engine which charges the batteries for the electric vehicle.
  • The Full Electric Vehicle. This is a full electric engine powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery.

"Our findings show that consumers will really take action when gas hits somewhere between $4 and $5 a gallon," Molinaroli said. "The bottom line is that these vehicles will take off when they make sense financially, likely the most quickly with Start-Stop and hybrid electric vehicles. Consumers do have options, they just are not aware or understand them. We're focused to help them gain that understanding."