Hybrid Electric Car

With all the recent news about “going green” many people have been advancing environmentally friendly and eco-conscious alternatives to the things that we do every day. One of the main points many environmental experts have been making is that our driving habits are rapidly causing global warming. They have suggested alternatives to our normal commutes in cars, such as taking public, mass transit, riding bicycles, walking or investing in cars with more fuel efficiency or that run on alternative forms of fuel. The hybrid electric car is one such environmentally friendly transportation alternative.

A hybrid electric car combines the conventional propulsion system found in most cars as we know them with some form of a rechargeable energy storage system (this is often abbreviated as RESS). This allows the hybrid electric car (or truck, for that matter) to achieve better fuel efficiency than conventional cars and trucks as we know them. Unlike its fuel efficient and environmentally friendly counterpart, the battery electric car, the hybrid electric car has a secondary propulsion system. This secondary propulsion system means that the electric car does not need constant visits to a charging station in order to stay in working order. Instead, when the battery has discharged, the propulsion system can kick in and began using a fuel powered engine to power the car.

Hybrid electric cars are highly intelligent designs and they use many different methods in order to prolong their use. For example, modern hybrid electric cars can capture kinetic energy (energy from motion) by a process called regenerative braking. Some modern hybrid electric cars can use the traditional internal combustion engine in order to generate electricity. This works when the car spins an electrical generator (or motor powered generator). This either recharges the hybrid electric car’s battery or directly feeds power to the motor that drives the vehicle. Another handy trick that many hybrid electric cars use is to shut down the internal combustion engine when the car is idling and restarting it only when it is needed. This is a clever way to reduce idle emissions, which are very harmful to the environment – so harmful that many cities, such as New York, have passed allows that allow idling up to only a certain (and generally very short), period of time.

Hybrid electric cars have smaller engines than non-hybrid electric cars. They also may run at various speeds, which increases their efficiency.

So when did hybrid electric cars come onto the scene and where can you get one now? Well, Toyota introduced the Prius in 2007, the same year that Honda introduced the Insight. These cars proved immensely popular, especially when coupled with an extreme rise in oil prices due to several factors in the world market. In fact, the numbers tell the tale. By January 2009, it was reported that hybrid electric cars (just from Toyota and Lexus) had sold over 1.7 million units.

The Honda Insight is being billed as the cheapest gas-electric hybrid car on the market. It was ranked as the top selling vehicle in all of Japan in the year 2009, making it the first hybrid electric vehicle to claim that coveted spot in an auto-loving nation. Also, because American automakers have gone through such financial trouble in the past few years, they are all now turning to hybrids as a way out of the quagmire.

From the first hybrid electric car (which were, surprisingly manufactured in 1901!) to today’s rapidly advancing hybrid electric car technology, it seems clear that, in order to sustain the environment and beat rising gas prices, hybrid electric cars are here to say. Now, let’s just wait around and see what happens next!

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