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The New Hybrid Cars – should you go for them?
Why are Hybrid Cars called “Hybrid”?
“Hybrid” is a word derived from latin “hybrida”, originally meaning something like “mongrel”, today we use it to describe a combination of two different things or origins.
So, a Hybrid Car is a vehicle combining two different drive systems or better fuel sources.
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Is ‘New’ in “New Hybrid Cars” correct? Are they really ‘New’?
Though we – are led to – believe that Hybrid Vehicles are a brilliant development of our time, this ain’t true at all.
Hybrid cars are as old as cars themselves. As early as 1899 the German Ferdinand Porsche – yes, ‘the’ Porsche 🙂 – developed a gas-electric hybrid vehicle.
1899 Gasoline-electric Hybrid Car developed by the young German engineer Ferdinand Porsche
They are only new to our time, our generation. The abundance of oil and gas derived from oil made us ignorant of these technologies. The modern history of Hybrid Vehicles begins around 1997 with the “Toyota Prius”. I think it would be fair to call it the first real mass-market Hybrid Car in history.
I believe that Hybrid Vehicles are our immediate car future, because you get the best of two worlds. On the one hand, you have a conventional gas drive train, allowing you to go any distance refilling the usual way. On the other hand you get an electric drive (for short range trips) – all you need is a jack.
And since electricity can be produced in many ways – from solar to nuclear – you are open for cheaper electricity generation. So in a way a Hybrid car is the pre-stage to a full electric car. Again a hint into a Electro-Vehicle future rather than a Hydrogen dominance.
How Hybrid Cars Work
As we have seen the word ‘hybrid’ means nothing more than a combination of two or more technologies. So theoretically a Hybrid Vehicle could also mean a – say – Solar powered car with an additional fuel cell.
But actually with ‘hybrid’ the gas(-oline)-electricity drive concept is meant. But even here there are different levels of electrification. A ‘conventional hybrid’ uses both drive concepts – on the one hand an electric motor powered by a battery and on the other hand a gas engine with fuel from a conventional tank.
Here the gas engine still is the main long distance drive, the electric motor is only for short range use and to support the engine. The next step toward a full electricity vehicle is called ‘plug in hybrid electric vehicles’, or short PHEV.
The main difference here is that the electric motor is the main drive and the gas engine is only used to produce electricity for the batteries for in-drive recharging. This actually reminds me more of a fuel-cell to produce electricity than a motor in the classical sense.