A hybrid car is such a car in which two types of motors are synchronized to provide power to the wheels. The most popular combination is the one in which the gasoline engine is assisted by the electric motor so that the gas engine is periodically shut off in order to reserve fuel.
Usually hybrid cars are subdivided into two major categories.
In the first type, only the use of electric motor propels the engine at very low speeds. The electric motor has the inherent ability to assist the engine when more power is required. It helps out the gasoline engine even while climbing or passing a steep road. The Ford Escape Hybrid and the Toyota Prius fall into the initial category.
The second of its kind requires extra horsepower for its gasoline engine to drive while in rapid acceleration or when moving up the hill. It utilizes that excess power only from the electric motor to assist the internal combustion engine. The Honda Insight and Civic Hybrid are ideal examples of the second category. These two engines do possess some resemblances as well.
When electric motor is used to assist the gasoline engine, both of the hybrids extract power from the battery depleting power, which in turn gets simultaneously self-recharged from the gasoline engine. Hence a hybrid car does not need to be plugged into a power source to recharge its battery, which is the most important aspect of hybrid cars.
Hybrid cars usually utilize sealed nickel metal hydride batteries, a technology which is popularly used in laptops and cell phones. These batteries are easy to make, cost effective and long lasting thus making it ideal for a higher valued car.
Hybrid engineers more than often have opted for unconventional design facets to maximize aerodynamics inside the engine, giving rise to its slim structure. These car units originally have very low (ultra low) drag coefficient due to sleek configurations, which make the cars slippery. All carmakers strive to reduce drag, as a vehicle with less drag requires less power as well as fuel to move.
The electrical system is monitored by an onboard computer system. The system is program controlled in such a way that when the vehicle is coasting downhill or the brakes are applied, polarity of the system is automatically reversed as the motor actually turns into an energy generating unit. This process is popularly known as regenerative where the conversion of mechanical energy to electrical energy stores up power into the battery.
All hybrid cars normally shut the gasoline engine off during road signals so as to conserve fuel reserve. The phenomenon is called idle stop characteristics. It cuts electrical consumption down during idle condition other than fuel saving and emission reduction. On pressing the accelerator paddle, the gasoline engine resumes work getting assistance from electric motor. The process being silent and seamless, the loss or delay in overall performance during this time is almost negligible.
The hybrids are manufactured by a special forging process termed as shot peeing, which reduces friction in the sidewalls of the cylinder thus increasing efficiency.
Hybrid cars, thus, by virtue of their technological advancement, exceptional fuel economy and marginal gas emissions, can be easily termed as the next generation cars