Hybrid cars: what makes them distinct
What does this mean in practice? The meaning coming out clearly is that a hybrid car will have the normal fuel tank and internal combustion engine. In addition, it will also have a battery pack and at least one electric motors. For instance, submarines use diesel while on the surface and batteries when fully submerged in water; hybrid trains use diesel engines and electricity power drawn from overhead cables.
People often confuse hybrid cars with electric cars. Most often, hybrid vehicles are gasoline-burning vehicles that do not allow any energy to go to waste as is the case with standard cars. In hybrids there is collection and ‘reusing’ of energy through utilization of electric bits.
Some terms associated with hybrids include:
Motor-generator; most hybrids have two, with only a few models having three. It offers additional acceleration ‘oomph’’ by drawing maximum electricity from the battery.
Stop-start; hybrids do not have the traditional starter motor for the engine. Why? The motor-generator is there for that function. Hybrids have a control software that automatically switch off the engine when the car is stopped, say in a traffic signal and then restart it with the electric motor as soon as the driver releases the brake pedal. This is economical because it eliminates the fuel waste of an idling gas engine.
Regenerative braking; the battery of hybrids is recharged by the motor-generator when the vehicle is coasting downhill or simply slowing. Ideally, a good portion of car’s momentum is absorbed by the battery. All the excess momentum of normal cars goes to waste in form of ‘heat’ in the brakes. It is important to note that traditional hydraulic brakes are still essential in hydraulics because regenerative braking is not sufficient to bring a car to a halt quickly.
Electric drive; hybrid car can be operated on electric power alone. But this would still depend on the electrical capacity of its system, weight of the vehicle, the capacity of the battery, the strength of the motor-generator and also the ‘aerodynamics’ of the car.