Hybrid electric vehicle

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A hybrid electric vehicle is any car that uses an electric motor, battery and internal combustion engine as power sources. Hybrids have been around almost as long as cars, but have only recently become common. Buyers were initially given a federal tax break, but these ended on December 31, 2010.[1] A federal transportation bill in August 2005 allowed individual states to issue permits to owners of hybrid cars to travel in High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes with only one person in the vehicle.[2] This political move occurred even though the hybrid cars' gas mileage reduces during steady speed driving. Hybrids are usually popular with Hollywood celebrities, homosexuals and liberals, but can also be popular with conservatives. The most popular hybrid is the Toyota Prius. Historically, sales of hybrid cars in the United States tend to increase when gas prices are above three dollars a gallon.[3]

Contents

How they work

There are many different types of hybrids, including parallel and series hybrids. In a parallel hybrid, the internal combustion engine powers the wheels, and is boosted by the electric motor. This is the most common type. In a series hybrid, the internal combustion engine serves as a electrical generator, and the electric motor drives the wheels alone.

Pros

  • Use less fuel in slower-speed situations, i.e. stop and go traffic.[4]
  • Cuts CO2 emissions by 25% to 35% over the most fuel-efficient gas powered vehicles.
  • Higher overall fuel economy than gasoline vehicles.

Cons

  • More expensive to purchase, which outweighs the savings in gas.[4]
  • Heavier due to battery.
  • Most are underpowered and slow.
  • Can cause electrocution after accidents, or routine maintenance if the mechanic does not take basic precautions.[5]
  • Release electromagnetic radiation which may increase the risks of developing cancer.[6]
  • More complex and potentially unreliable. Manufacturers usually offer longer warranties on the hybrid components, but after that the customer is on their own when they need to replace the battery. However, vehicles such as Prii and Escape Hybrids went well above 300,000 miles in the NYC Taxi fleet without needing new batteries.
  • Very quiet at low speed when the gas engine is off, increasing the chances of pedestrian accidents because people cannot hear them coming.
  • Higher repair bills.[4]

References

  1. Hybrid Car Tax Credits: Incentives Fade into Memory Hybridcars.com, February 7, 2011, retrieved August 20, 2011
  2. Carpool HOV Lanes Hybridcars.com, July 8, 2010, retrieved August 20, 2011
  3. Toyota's hybrid car more than a mixed success Maynard, Micheline, July 4, 2007, The New York Times, retrieved August 20, 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Hybrid Cars - Pros and Cons Physorg.com, January 26, 2006, retrieved August 20, 2011
  5. Will I get shocked if I drive an electric car through a big puddle? - Electric Power Howstuffworks.com, Grabianowski, Ed, retrieved August 20, 2011
  6. Motoring - Fear, but Few Facts, on Hybrid risk Montavalli, Jim, April 27, 2008, The New York Times, retrieved August 20, 2011
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