Hybrid Vehicles Technology Overviews
Hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) combine the benefits of gasoline engines and electric motors and can be configured to obtain different objectives, such as improved fuel economy, increased power, or additional auxiliary power for electronic devices and power tools. Some of the advanced technologies typically used by hybrids include:
Regenerative Braking. The electric motor applies resistance to the drive-train causing the wheels to slow down. In return, the energy from the wheels turns the motor, which functions as a generator, converting energy normally wasted during coasting and braking into electricity, which is stored in a battery until needed by the electric motor.
Electric Motor Drive/Assist. The electric motor provides additional power to assist the engine in accelerating, passing, or hill climbing. This allows a smaller, more efficient engine to be used. In some vehicles, the motor alone provides power for low-speed driving conditions where internal combustion engines are least efficient.
Automatic Start/Shutoff. Automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop and restarts it when the accelerator is pressed. This prevents wasted energy from idling.
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Benefits of Hybrid Electric Vehicles
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Low Emissions and High Efficiency. Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) emissions vary depending on the vehicle and its configuration. But in general, HEVs have lower emissions than conventional vehicles because an electric motor is used with an internal combustion engine, which offsets how often the engine is used and, therefore, reduces fuel use and emissions. In addition, HEVs have the potential to operate in "electric only" mode. In this mode, the vehicle can operate with no emissions, which is optimal in congested areas and in areas where emissions are not tolerated.
An HEV can easily control the engine's operating point, which enables the vehicle to be more efficient and pollute less. The engine can also be downsized because the motor/battery can help power the vehicle and the engine can be turned off during non-use times, such as at stops or coasting. In addition, the engine can have a smoother operation, which decreases power spikes that can cause the engine to use more fuel and produce more pollution. And finally, an HEV engine can power electric components, which is more efficient than the mechanical counterparts normally used. An example of this would be using the electric motor instead of hydraulic power for steering.
High fuel Economy and Low Costs. HEVs can go 40-70 miles per gallon of gasoline. This allows drivers to fuel less often and get more miles on a tank of fuel than they would driving a conventional vehicle. In addition to the cost savings associated with vehicle operation, the HEVs are very cost competitive with similar conventional vehicles. Any cost premium that may be associated with HEVs of the future can be off-set by overall fuel savings and tax incentives.
Today there are several tax incentives that make purchasing an HEV cost effective. There are federal and state incentives available. To learn more about the HEV tax incentives, go to the HEV Tax Incentives page or research state hybrid tax incentives in your area.
Outstanding Performance. Auto manufacturers are making HEVs with performance, safety, and cost comparable to a conventional vehicle because they know that these three elements are most important to consumers. And by combining gasoline with electric power, hybrids will have the same or greater range than traditional combustion engines. The HEV is able to operate approximately two times more efficiently than conventional vehicles.
Energy Independence. Because HEVs are so efficient and have high fuel economy, less fuel is used than conventional vehicles. In addition, HEVs have the potential of running on alternative fuels, which can be renewable and/or produced in the United States. Therefore, HEVs can reduce U.S. dependence on fossil fuels and help decrease foreign oil imports, thereby increasing energy security.
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