October 21, 2008

How Did Hybrid Cars Achieve Maximum Fuel Economy?

How Did Hybrid Cars Achieve Maximum Fuel Economy?

Hybrid cars can run from 20mpg to 60mpg. How do they do it? Aside from using both the electric motor and combustion engine to draw propulsion, hybrid cars have several tricks to squeeze every mile out of each gallon of gasoline. Hybrid electric vehicles have:

Lightweight materials. One of the surest ways to increase the mileage of the car is to reduce its overall weight. The lighter the car is, the higher the fuel mileage will be. So instead of steel, lightweight materials such as magnesium and aluminum or composite materials like carbon fibers are used for hybrid vehicles.

Smaller engine. The weight of the car is directly related to its fuel consumption. And because larger engines are relatively heavier, they require more energy just to propel their own weight, thus consuming more fuel. Also big engines have large cylinder displacement that requires more fuel just to stop.

Since hybrid vehicles utilize other sources of power, they do not require large engines. Instead, the smaller and lighter engine equates to better fuel mileage. The Honda Civic Hybrid, for example uses a 1.3 L iVTEC 4-cylinder engine as opposed to the typical 1.8 L or 2.0 L engine for the non-hybrid counterpart.

Improved aerodynamics. When you are driving at a high speed, most work of the engine goes into pushing the car through the air. Hybrid cars are designed in such away that its frontal area chops through the air, reducing drag and increasing fuel economy. The Honda Insight is the best example of how a car can increase its fuel mileage by using a smoother aerodynamic design.

Energy conservation. Since hybrid cars do not rely solely on internal combustion engines that run continuously even at stops, they can shut off the engine temporarily whenever do not need it. It will automatically turn on when you step on the gas pedal.

Energy recovery. Much of the energy is lost when braking, more so at high speeds. Hybrid vehicles are designed to recapture this lost energy and store it back in the battery to be used later.

Special tires. Tires are specifically used to minimize noise, provide a smooth ride, and give good traction in different weather conditions. But tires are rarely used to optimize efficiency. They cause a great deal of drag while driving. Hybrid cars on the other hand use low-rolling resistance tires. They are inflated to a higher air pressure and are stiffer which result in reduced drag and better fuel efficiency.

The Benefits of Hybrid Vehicles

Benefits of Hybrid Vehicles

Buying a hybrid car may give you the bragging rights of being the first person in your neighborhood to drive a hybrid vehicle. But that does not end there. Harnessing the hybrid technology can actually give you several benefits you cannot expect from a conventional gasoline-engine car.

1. Fuel economy. Depending on the driving condition and driver's habits, a gasoline powered family sedan can run 15-34 miles on a gallon of fuel. Hybrid cars, on the other hand can run 40-60% longer at 20- 60 miles on a gallon of gas. This is perhaps the biggest reason why hybrid cars are so popular today. And with the uncontrollable increase in pump prices, hybrid cars can solve at least one of the obvious problems.

2. Durability. The hybrid vehicle automatically shuts off its combustion engine when idling. Not only does it help to conserve gas, it also reduces the wear on the engine. Also, the regenerative braking system that recaptures the lost energy when braking reduces the wear on the brakes.

3. Tax credit reward. While the sticker price of one hybrid car can set you back several thousands more than its non-hybrid counterpart, you can actually enjoy a tax reward of as much as $3000 depending on what hybrid car you buy. Also, the government imposes several incentives exclusive to hybrid car owners like free parking among others.

4. Environmental impact. Hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulate matter (diesel), and formaldehyde also known as formalin are 5 noxious gases emitted by gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicles. These gases contribute to the greenhouse effect. In short, these gases are harmful to the environment. Since hybrid cars consume less fuel, they also emit less fumes.

5. Sophisticated design. If you only care about the looks of the car, then choose among one of the available hybrid cars on the market today and you'll surely fall in love with one of them. Hybrid cars are among the best looking cars today.

6. Exclusivity. There are only a few hybrids among 200 million cars on the road today. And if you own one, then you'll feel that you own an exotic car. While this won't last long since many car manufacturers have announced more hybrid models in the future plus more and more hybrids are being sold everyday, it is still a good feeling that you are one of the first.

October 20, 2008

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Sport utility vehicles have been famous for their features and looks. When they came out, the vehicle became a favorite among celebrities and people were more than willing to buy it. Unfortunately a lot of people are also against it for its size and fuel consumption. It does have the power but at the expense of your wallet and environmental conscience (that is if you have one). Fortunately Ford has decided to follow in the Footsteps of the Toyota Prius. The first ever hybrid car sold on the market.

Due to soaring gas prices, the new technology was supported and Toyota dominated the hybrid automobile market. Ford made a hybrid version of their Ford Escape which started the SUV hybrid. After the successful launch of the Ford Escape, Toyota decided to jump on the bandwagon and created the Highlander Hybrid SUV.

A step up from the Prius

Although it is not clear if Toyota earned a profit from the Prius, they still continued to develop and manufacture hybrids. Sales didn't pick up until 2004 and when other motor companies decided to make hybrids of their own it was clear that the technology was worth investing in. Toyota then decided to make a hybrid version of their commercially successful Highlander.

The highlander, like other Toyota's creations has the hybrid synergy system but with a new power train to be able to sustain load carrying requirements of the SUV. It is a formidable propulsion management system in hybrid technology that was also used in the Ford Escape. It has a 3.3 liter V6 engine and two permanent magnet electric motors with a peak power of 270 horsepower (combination of gas engine and electric motor).

The highlander comes in front wheel and four wheel drive. It has daytime running lights, power windows, tilt steering wheel, door locks, cruise control, and a radio and CD sound system with six speakers. It also has a navigational system that monitors on which and how much power it will use from the gas engine and the electric motor. The highlander is also an example of a full hybrid and can run off the electric motor alone.

The highlander, like other Toyota hybrids has regenerative braking, continuous variable transmission, anti-lock system, and Vehicle Dynamics Integrated System. It has the advanced airbag system for the driver and the passengers. The highlander can be expensive but it will be beneficial in the long run.