Most potential hybrid drivers are interested in economy as well as performance. For economy, hybrids can provide 35% or more in fuel savings. They are able to give those savings through highly-engineered and refined engines, motors, generators, transmissions, and computer control of those components.
For performance, there are hybrid cars like the new Fisker Karma. Makers of the Karma claim a city/hwy combined 67mpg, 0-60 in 5.8 sec, and top out at 125mph all while reducing CO2 to 83g/km. That is 6grams less than the 89g/km claimed by the Prius. The Karma does cost over 4 times as much however!
Most modern hybrids have relatively large electric motors, and relatively small battery packs. Hybrids today use the instant torque of their electric motors to accelerate from stops, and add ICE power when needed, depending on programming. Hybrids only run on electric motor power to limited speeds.
Many hybrids have the same gas motor as their gas only counterparts, plus an electric motor and all the extra wiring, parts, and programming. This accounts for the increased cost of the hybrid.
Performance or heavy hauling hybrids are likely to have more than one electric motor. The BMW-GM Two Mode system for example is used for performance and power. About 95% of the battery packs powering hybrid motors these days are Ni-MH chemistry. That is changing as Li-Ion chemistry takes over.
Most modern hybrids have regenerative, or regen braking. When the driver pushes on the brake pedal, a regen circuit turns the electric motor into a generator. The generator slows the car and puts the energy back into the battery pack. Facts on hybrid cars show that the battery pack today is likely to be a Nickel Metal - Ni-MH
Regen braking, extra motors, circuits, programming and other technology isn't cheap. Hybrids cost more than similar gas powered cars. You can expect to pay 20-30% more for a hybrid vehicle. Check here to see if hybrid cars are worth it.
For your extra Dollars, Dinars, Rand, Francs, Euros, Yen, Yuan or other currency, you are also providing a cleaner atmosphere for everyone. A hybrid-electric vehicle produces both less emissions from its smaller ICE and electric motor(s) than a comparably-sized gasoline car.
What do you get besides clean air and reduced resource use for your extra dollars? One of the practical facts on hybrid cars is that they get 25%-35% or so better fuel economy than a similar sized gas powered vehicle. That fuel economy can translate into savings over time.
One of the interesting facts on hybrid cars is that many actually get better gas mileage in the city than on the highway. This is because in the city the vehicle will be running on battery power more, and braking during stop and start is likely captured and reused.
Many hybrids today feature stop-start systems. When you are stopped at an intersection, for example, the ICE shuts off. When you take your foot off the brake, the ICE might start back up then or wait a few blocks when you reach a pre-determined speed. We think this is a fantastic idea.
Maintenance Facts on Hybrid Cars
Hybrids can be very reliable. Important Note: The hybrid car is relatively new, so long-term data is not available yet. However, facts on hybrid cars so far suggest that the modern hybrid car is as well built and reliable as a similar gas-only powered car.
For example a 60-car Prius fleet test showed that the hybrids were found to have higher preventive maintenance costs but lower non-scheduled maintenance costs than their gas powered equivalents.
Facts on hybrid cars from JD Powers rates the 2010 Toyota Camry Hybrid 10.0 out of 10. The score is based on 51 cars over 3 years.
Some have used the Toyota Prius as taxi cabs. The owner-operators have reported much lower brake replacement cost thanks to the regenerative braking.
Many Toyota Prius owners have logged over 100,000 miles with no more problems than any other car. Battery replacements for the Prius run about $5,000. The car offers an 8-year/ 100,000-mile warranty on the battery pack and hybrid systems.
For comparison, Honda's Insight and Civic hybrids offer an 8-year/80,000-mile warranty on most of the powertrain, including the battery pack.
The US Government has tested over a dozen hybrids for 10-year durability, including battery pack life. So far the results indicate no need to replace packs within the warranty periods listed above. Testing is continuing.
Despite concerns regarding battery pack replacement, most consumer's problems have been minor. Pack replacements can be made if needed, and as it happens, individual cells in the packs can be replaced as they go down, easing the cost of replacing the whole pack at once.
One thing to notice would be that it does require very knowledgeable or factory-trained mechanics to work on hybrid drivetrain and computer components. This can increase your labor cost.
Facts on hybrid from Consumer Reports gives hybrid electric cars very high ratings.
The Toyota Prius, Honda Insight, as well as the Ford Fusion, the Mercury Milan,
Toyota Camry,and the Nissan Altima hybrid models all rank high.
The Ford Escape Hybrid has been called the Best American Car (small SUV)...period.
If you are interested in hybrid terminology, the classification below should help.
More Facts on Hybrid Cars - Hybrid Classification
Hybrids by definition have an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. Some hybrids have 2 electric motors. The way these power plants are configured and matched to the rest of the power train determines the classification.
Full Hybrid: The electric motor can power the vehicle without assist from the ICE. The motor is typically used at low and light cruising speeds. At higher cruising speeds, and under load, the ICE kicks in. The Toyota Prius and Ford Fusion are full hybrids. These are most the most common hybrids. Full hybrids include regenerative braking in which the electric drive motor is used as a generator during braking to recapture energy, charge the battery pack, and slow the car.
Mild Hybrid: The ICE is the main power plant for the vehicle. The electric motor is basically a huge alternator, and is used only for power assist, and cannot power the vehicle alone. The Honda Civic Hybrid, Saturn Vue Green Line, and the Hyundai Accent Hybrid are mild hybrids. Mild hybrids also feature regenerative braking, and may be termed belt alternator starter (BAS) systems.
Extended Range Electric Vehicle: This hybrid electric vehicle has a small ICE used to power a generator which recharges a battery pack to provide an extended range. Only the batteries propel the vehicle, not the ICE.
Parallel Hybrid: The gas motor powers both a generator and the wheels. When a lot of power is needed, both the gas and electric motors combine. At low power needs, only the electric motor is used to move the car. Most hybrids are parallel. The entire operation is computer controlled based on throttle position.
Series Hybrid: This hybrid is propelled by an electric motor only. The electric drive motor can be powered two ways. First, the onboard gas engine can power a generator, which in turn provides electrical energy to the electric drive motor. Second, the battery pack, which is in series with the generator, can also provide energy to the driving motor. The battery pack is recharged by plugging it in. The Chevy Volt is a series car. The Volt can run about 40 miles on battery power only before the gas engine kicks in.
Powersplit Hybrid: Here, the vehicle makes use of both parallel and series configurations. Most present day
hybrids are currently using powersplit configurations. This setup provides high torque electric motor drive
when it is most efficient, such as at start up.
Plug In Hybrid Electric Vehicle or PHEV: hybrid vehicles with large plug-in, rechargeable battery packs.
Plug-in hybrids operate as electric vehicles with an onboard engine for backup power. The Chevy Volt
and Fisker Karma are 2 examples of new PHEVs. The Prius is also coming out in a PHEV version.
Check these facts on hybrid cars before heading out to the lot, or just for your interest. Hybrids have been around for close to 100 years. Skip the history except to say that the hybrids over the past 10 years have improved remarkably.
These facts on hybrid cars are only part of a 5-page series. For a complete numerical comparison of hybrid cars go here.
The hybrid electric or hybrid car has become the most popular highway capable electric car.
Toyota and Lexus alone have sold over two million hybrids to date. Most of these were sold in the North America, but over 250,000 were sold in Europe and other countries as well.
These sales facts on hybrid cars give a monetary indication of the hybrid market. Two million cars at say $22,000 USD each gives $44,000,000,000. That is 44 Billion dollars. No wonder most car manufacturers are showing a sudden interest in hybrids.
There are about 30 (and growing) production hybrid models to choose from today. Hybrids now range from family sedans to high-performance cars. All of the major car manufacturers are now producing hybrids or have announced concept hybrid cars to go into production.
Fisker Karma PHEV - Looks great but may have mechanical problems.