How do Hybrid Cars Work?

Hybrid cars have been quite popular for the last 20 years or so. They were the first big leap in automotive innovation to promote a cleaner and healthier environment. A hybrid car is basically a combination of a gasoline car and electric car. In other words, there is an internal combustion engine and electric motor all in one vehicle. That means there is no single source of power which moves the vehicle. Instead, there are two sources of power which the vehicle can use, depending on its current speed and driving conditions.

Okay, so when is each power source used? Hybrid cars are designed to maximize fuel efficiency and reduce carbon emissions as much as possible. Since the battery of a fully electric vehicle would never be able to sustain the power demands of high-speed driving, the hybrid vehicle still uses gasoline power for this purpose. There is a computer in the hybrid which detects how fast you’re driving and then automatically activates the appropriate power source, whether it’s gasoline or electric. If you’re driving slowly, then electric power is activated. If you’re driving fast, then gasoline power from the internal combustion engine is activated.

For example, let’s say you’re driving around town to do errands like grocery shopping or going to the bank. You won’t be driving very fast because you’re constantly in stop-and-go traffic. Therefore, you don’t need a gasoline engine to provide power just for driving slowly. Instead, you can use an electric motor to generate power for this purpose. As long as you’re staying under 25 miles per hour or so, then you won’t be burning any gasoline.

Each hybrid car model has its own threshold for when electric power shuts off, and gasoline power turns on. Again, this is an automated feature which is done as soon as you drive faster than a certain speed. Things like slow driving, parking, and idling are the best uses of an electric motor. But if you’re doing faster highway or interstate driving, then gasoline power is needed.

How it Works

An electric motor generates power from two sources. First, there is a controller connected to a rotating turbine which creates mechanical power for the motor. Then, of course, there is the car battery which also supplies power to the motor. Together, they create just enough power so that the electric motor can support lighter driving actions, such as slow driving, idling, and parking. No gasoline will be used at all during these actions.

When the gasoline engine activates, the air pumps will immediately begin taking in air from the outside and mixing it with the gasoline in the combustion chamber. The ignition of the mixture creates an explosion which generates enough power to crank the engine and keep it running. Gasoline power is stronger than electric power, which is why higher speeds depend on gasoline power. If you were to try driving faster than 30 miles per hour on electric power only, then your car battery would go dead within minutes. This is a big reason why fully electric vehicles have not taken over our society yet.

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The internal combustion engine of a hybrid car does help regenerate power for the battery of the electric motor. However, you do need to recharge the battery from an outlet when you’re done with your driving. Don’t rely solely on the engine to recharge the battery.

Once you bring the speed of your vehicle back down to under 25 miles per hour, the gasoline engine will stop taking in air and generating power. After that, the electric motor will activate again and supply the necessary power.

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