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The deal with hybrids- do you know the difference?

Hybrid fuel engines are a hot topic on a lot of people’s minds. The promise of saving both money and the environment has many considering going hybrid the next chance they get. But not all hybrid engines are created equal.

Differences among hybrids
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Hybrid vehicles are receiving wide recognition and are becoming a subject of ever-increasing importance. Economic studies estimate that by the year 2021, up to 22% of vehicles on European roadways will be hybrids, as opposed to the current seven. So what exactly is a hybrid fuel engine, and what are the differences among individual hybrid systems?

Hybrid vehicles combine a conventional engine, typically gasoline-powered, with an electric motor that sources its energy from accumulators placed underneath the floorboard or inside the trunk.

The electric motor is usually placed between the engine and the transmission, where it facilitates driving power as well as other important functions. For example, it can replace the starter or the alternator- two systems that are crucial for the operation of traditional vehicles. It is also frequently responsible for the vehicle’s reverse function- most hybrids use electricity to back-up. Electric motors can also be placed into individual wheel hubs and can even supplement four-wheel drive.

The main reason to use a hybrid engine is to reduce overall gasoline usage, and thus mitigate adverse environmental effects of gasoline engines. A secondary advantage is lower depletion of operational materials such as brake pads and discs, since an electric motor also assists in a vehicle’s deceleration. When used in sports vehicles, the intention behind hybrid engine use is typically the opposite. In this case, the goal is attaining the highest possible vehicle performance as opposed to conserving fuel.

Mild hybrid

Mild hybrid is a name given to hybrid vehicles that use a regular engine during the entire driving time. The electric motor is useful only for specific situations, mainly in times of immediate need, such as rapid acceleration required for passing other vehicles on the road.

One disadvantage of a mild hybrid is their inability to generate autonomous motion using electricity only. The fuel savings are also rather insignificant. On the other hand, mild hybrids boast the benefit of relatively inexpensive technical gear, which can even be used to equip smaller and cheaper models.

Full hybrid

The most widely used hybrid system is the full hybrid, often referred to simply as a hybrid. The main difference from a mild hybrid is its ability to generate motion using merely the electric motor without utilizing the combustion engine, though this is typically only possible at city speeds.

The full hybrid is most effective in cities. At increased speeds, this system loses the benefit of purely electricity-produced motility and switches to functioning only as a support mechanism for the combustion engine.

Plug-in hybrid

Plug-in hybrid technology recharges its accumulators with the help of the brake system, using the vehicle’s forward motion to store energy inside the battery. In some instances, accumulators are recharged with the help of the combustion engine, which in this instance functions as an electric power generator. Additionally, the plug-in hybrid system enables accumulator recharging straight from a power socket. Consequently, these accumulators typically have an increased capacity.

While full hybrids can only drive a few kilometers at full charge, plug-in hybrids can handle driving tens of kilometers, thus further decreasing fossil fuel consumption. At the same time, they are capable of electrically produced motion even at highway speeds. The fundamental condition for the economic viability of plug-in hybrid operation is regular recharging of the accumulator from a power socket, because accumulators are typically not capable of fully recharging on their own.

For information about electromobility options: http://www.benzina.cz/en/news/Pages/default.aspx