Hybrid Electric Vehicles

The soaring oil prices and the rising level of awareness among the masses regarding the rapidly deteriorating environmental conditions are compelling many car makers to switch over innovative technologies like Bio-fuel or Electric Vehicle(EV) or the hybrid vehicles.

Hybrid vehicles are literally means the combined technology of internal combustion engine(powered by gasoline, diesel, compressed natural gas, hydrogen, or other fuels) and electric vehicle. Where the both the features are used to drive the same engine. This is done by adding an electric motor and rechargeable batteries to the conventional gas engine which may increase the efficiency by as much as 50 percent. But the switching between these two will be controlled by the Electronic Controller Units(ECUs).

Engine: More efficient than traditional engine found in most cars.

Electric motor: Uses magnets to produce output.

Battery: Charged by engine via generator when cruising, or electric motor when braking.

Power split device: Allows engine and motor to be used independently, or together.

Braking system: Energy from braking recharges battery, by using motor as generator.

Inverter: Converts DC power from battery to AC power for motor.

There are three types of hybrid cars; the parallel hybrid, series hybrid and both.

In a parallel hybrid car, the both the internal combustion engine and an electric motor generates the energy to drive the car. whereas in a series hybrid, the internal combustion engine either directly powers an electric motor that powers the vehicle or charges batteries that will power the motor. In Series-parallel hybrids it has the flexibility to operate in either series or parallel mode. As a result, they are more efficient overall, because they can operate as a series hybrid at lower speeds and as parallel at high speeds, but their cost is higher than a pure parallel.

Best part of hybrid vehicles is that the kinetic energy generated by the brake which is called as “regenerative braking” is stored in the batteries which in turn power the electric motor to drive the vehicle. These hybrid vehicles make uses of many technology in order to increase the fuel economy, lesser emission level to prevent or reduce green house effect and also bring down the usage of fuels. But this hybrid technology has to compromise with the “power” generated compared to the conventional internal combustion engine. So both these parallel and series hybrids have small internal combustion engine, and produce much less pollution than standard internal combustion engine cars and thus produce much less power. Hybrids generally produce between 60-90 horsepower, while the conventional internal combustion engine probably produces about double. To overcome this power difference hybrid cars are constructed with ultra lightweight materials like carbon fiber or aluminum. Hybrid cars are also designed to be more aerodynamic than other cars thus allowing them to slice through air instead of pushing it out of the way.

To name a few companies which manufactures hybrid vehicles are Ford, General Motors, Lexus, Nissan, Volvo, Honda and Toyota(The Toyota Prius is the world’s top selling hybrid car as on 2010) and so on.

The result of some electronic wizardry has resulted in creating an intelligent plug in parallel hybrid solution for existing cars and ultralight LCV’s. The hybrid technology can be fitted to existing vehicles regardless if they are petrol or diesel powered. In India the Joint Venture between Bharat Forge and KPIT Cummins Ltd have filed for over 15 patents on this innovative technology, whereas the Success of the solution will largely depend on the cost effectiveness to the consumers.

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