Buying A Hybrid Car Part 2 and 3

Hybrid CarsPart 2 - Mechanical Differences

Even though conventional and hybrid cars rely on some similar technologies, there are a number of key differences. Among other things, a hybrid vehicle relies on an electrical motor and a generator in order to achieve propulsion. You will also find that hybrid cars also take advantage of technologies that recapture energies spent on certain processes.

The Electric Motor and Batteries in a Hybrid

As you may be aware, a conventional vehicle has only one acid battery, which is charged by an alternator. By contrast, a hybrid vehicle has a rechargeable battery pack that is capable of providing enough power for propulsion. With the exception of size, these batteries are similar to cell phone batteries. You may also think of them as being similar to the NIMH ones that you can use in your cameras and other battery operated gadgets.

The motor in a hybrid vehicle often serves as a propulsion mechanism and a generator. Therefore, while the motor is engaged in moving your vehicle, some of the electricity generated by it also gets stored in the batteries. As may be expected, the clutch, transmission and drivetrain on a hybrid must be able to accept thrust energy from different sources. This is usually accomplished with a split box design.

Brake Energy Recapture

One of the most fascinating technologies included in hybrid vehicles is the ability to recapture the energy of momentum that is normally lost during braking. Basically, as soon as you start braking, the energy of momentum is cycled back into the batteries. You will also find that the brakes on a hybrid vehicle stay cooler because there is less momentum to overcome. This, in turn, means your brakes will last much longer.

The Computer System

As soon as a hybrid vehicle is started, the computer begins the process of deciding which power source to use. Because the engine is undersized in comparison to what you would find on a conventional vehicle, most of the ratios will include some assistance from the electric motors, and even the batteries. In addition, during this process, the computer must differentiate between acceleration and deceleration, as well as provide enough energy to compensate for various terrains.

Part 3 - Hybrid Driving Style Differences

If you have ever driven a hybrid, one of the first things you will notice is that it is much quieter than a conventional car. Aside from auditory differences, there are some other things to keep in mind as you adjust to driving a hybrid. While these changes are no so different that it will feel like learning to drive all over again, you will still need to make sure that you are prepared for certain circumstances.

Gas Engine Phases in and Out

Chances are, if the engine on your car ever just stopped while you were driving, you would immediately think something is wrong. Considering the number of fuel pumps that simply die out this way in conventional cars, you would be well justified in your concerns. On the other hand, the gas engine on a hybrid routinely turns on and off. In particular, if you are idling, it may cut out all together.

Without a question, the engine phasing in and out is difficult to get used to. Aside from the silence when it kicks out, you will also hear some noise when it starts up again. In addition, if you are accustomed to the good healthy roar of a gas engine as you zip along on the thruway, the sound of a hybrid is likely to make you feel like it is ready to break down.

Pedestrian Issues

In many cases, when you drive a traditional car, people will move out of your way without even looking. This occurs because they are accustomed to the level of sound produced by a car coming up behind them. Even though you may still watch carefully for pedestrians when driving a hybrid, you would be surprised at how many people cannot hear the car coming up behind them. As a result, you may be thinking that they will move out of the way as they normally would. Unfortunately, they won't, and therefore, you may wind up stopping short.

This problem is compounded when there are blind people trying to navigate streets and parking lots without the assistance of a seeing eye dog. In many cases, blind people rely on their hearing to determine when a car is near. They cannot achieve this when a hybrid is approaching, let alone get a sense of what direction the car is coming from.

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See Parts 4 &5

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