Clean Tech 101

Hybrid Electric Vehicles - Cleaner, Healthier Alternatives to Conventional Vehicles

What are the Advantages of Hybrid Electric Vehicles?
How do Hybrid Electric Vehicles Work?
What is a PHEV and How Does it Work?


Hybrid Electric Vehicle or HEVs are any vehicle which uses two or more sources of power. Current hybrid electric vehicles use a combination of an internal combustion engine of a conventional vehicle and a battery and electric motor from an electric vehicle.

As a result, twice the fuel economy of a conventional vehicle as well as much of the energy and environmental benefits from an electric vehicle can be achieved. Other benefits such as improved fuel economy and lower emissions can also be reached.

What are the Advantages of Hybrid Electric Vehicles?

Hybrid electric vehicles offer several advantages over conventional vehicles. First, greater operating efficiency can be achieved since hybrid electric vehicles use regenerative braking. This helps to minimize the energy loss and to recover the energy used to stop or to slow down a vehicle.

Hybrid electric vehicles consume less fuel than conventional gas-power vehicles and therefore hybrid electric vehicles have greater fuel efficiency. Hybrid electric vehicles can run on alternative fuels, thereby decreasing our dependency on fossil fuels.

By combining gasoline with electric power, hybrid electric vehicles have the same or greater range than traditional combustion-engine vehicles. In addition, hybrid electric vehicles are two times more efficient to operate than a conventional vehicle.

How do Hybrid Electric Vehicles Work?

A hybrid electric vehicle is driven only by its electric motor, using battery power when engine demand is low, such as when starting, traveling at a light load, or stopping. The gasoline engine is employed to drive the wheels and/or recharge the battery during normal travel.

The battery adds its power to the mix at full acceleration. This provides a very smooth, powerful response. During braking or decelerating, the regenerative braking system acts as a generator to help recharge the battery.

The engine shuts off if engine demand is low or when the car is idling. The gasoline engine runs only as needed to recharge the battery or run the air conditioner. This is the reason why a hybrid electric vehicle never has to be plugged in for recharging.

What is a PHEV and How Does it Work?

A PHEV or a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle is similar to a hybrid electric vehicle, which is part electric vehicle and part gasoline vehicle. The only difference between a PHEV and the hybrid electric vehicles lies in the way how the battery is charged.

A plug-in hybrid electric vehicle has a larger battery that can be fully charged by plugging into a standard electrical outlet for a few hours each day. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can further reduce the usage of fuel by employing electrical energy captured through daily charging.

While the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle technology shows promise, a large number of energy and environmental issues must be considered before plug-in hybrid electric vehicles become widely available. For example, while plug-in hybrid electric vehicles might cost less to drive than a gasoline-powered vehicle, they would draw power from the electrical grid when charging.

The energy needed to extract and transport the coal, as well as the environmental considerations associated with burning the coal, are all part of the overall cost of using plug-in technology. These issues could decrease in importance as the amount of renewable energy in the electricity mix increases.

Source: AZoCleantech
Last update 27th January 2008

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