December 26, 2008

How to Conserve More Fuel with Hybrid Cars?

How to Conserve More Fuel with Hybrid Cars?

Most hybrid cars are made for fuel efficiency but you can further squeeze extra miles out of a gallon of gasoline buy adapting the same good driving habits you do in your gasoline-engine vehicles.

1. Go easy on the brakes. Your hybrid car has the regenerative braking system that recaptures the energy lost from braking and stores it back to your batteries. If you brake slowly, you give your electric motor more time to store power thus, recovering more energy back to the batteries. If you brake hard and abrupt, the regenerative braking system will not be able to recapture much of this energy and your brakes will take most of the work.

2. Drive at slow speed. When you drive at a slow speed, you are running the electric motor. This saves a lot of gas. Also high speed driving requires your engine to produce extra power to drive the car forward and push it through the air. This consumes more gas just to overcome the aerodynamic drag. (Take note: the air is much denser on snowy, rainy, and slushy conditions. This makes the engine consumes more fuel to push the vehicle through the air.)

3. Avoid quick acceleration. The electric motor can only give your car a certain amount of power. When you require more speed and step on the gas pedal, the combustion engine kicks in to provide that extra speed you need, thus consuming more fuel. Quick acceleration in gasoline- or diesel-engine car wastes a lot of energy and so with hybrid vehicles. If you need to accelerate, do it gradually if possible.

4. Check your tire pressure. Tires are made to improve safety and the quality of the ride. It is not actually made for efficiency but you can actually use the tire to significantly improve your gas mileage. Use and maintain the maximum recommended tire pressure for your car on the sidewall and not the psi supplied by the manufacturer on the doorframe. Also use low-resistance tires for better mileage.

5. Avoid rush hour. Stop-and-go traffic consumes a lot of gas.

6. Use low octane gasoline. Not only it is cheaper, vehicles are actually designed to run well on low octane gas. Check your manual.

7. Glide. If you are comfortable with driving back and forth to neutral, you can get the best out of your speed. Coasting in neutral gives you a longer cruise and better use of energy.

December 25, 2008

Factors that Influence the Gas Mileage

Factors that Influence the Gas Mileage

Rated to run from 20 mpg to 60 mpg, hybrid cars are designed for maximum fuel economy. But aside from its second source of power, what other factors can influence gas mileage? Here are those factors,

Size of the engine. It is quite ironic that the more powerful your engine is, the larger and heavier it becomes. So much of the additional power will be used just to carry the extra weight of the engine. Hybrid solves it by putting a small engine with an electric motor. Moreover, small engine has small cylinders that consume less fuel both at stop and while cruising. This makes hybrid cars more fuel efficient. Hybrid car engines are smaller and are significantly lighter, thus reducing the total weight of the car.

Driving condition (with respect to the hybrid car's internal structure). A hybrid car can either be parallel or series. With a parallel drive train, the car runs more fuel efficient on the highway. Series hybrids on the other hand work well in stop-and-go traffic.

Car Design/Aerodynamics. When driving at high speeds, the car's engine works more because it has to push the car through the air. This is called aerodynamic drag. And the faster the car is, the greater the aerodynamic drag it has to overcome. Hybrid cars work well both at slow and high speed because it's design to cut through air that reduces the drag, thus increasing fuel economy. Low-rolling resistance tires, which are stiffer and inflated to higher pressure can further cut the drag and increase the fuel mileage of the car.

Vehicle Weight. When the car is heavy, the engine has to inject more fuel to the cylinder in order to push it forward. So in order to increase fuel economy, hybrid cars are made with lighter materials such as magnesium and aluminum or composite materials like carbon fiber.

Driving habits. Whether you are driving a hybrid or not, driving habits can definitely influence the gas mileage of your car. Hard braking and abrupt acceleration wastes a lot of energy. Even if your hybrid has the regenerative braking system, the maximum amount of energy cannot be recaptured back to your battery. Abrupt acceleration on the other hand requires more power from both the electric motor and the combustion engine which equates to more fuel consumption. To increase gas mileage, anticipate braking distance, step on the brake softly, and accelerate gently.

December 24, 2008

Hybrid Plug-In Vehicles

Hybrid Plug-In Vehicles

Vehicles are important tools for transportation. Unfortunately they have harmful effects on the environment, health and wallets of the people. The continuing rise of gas prices and campaigns on global warming make you want to ditch that SUV for a bike. Fortunately other power sources and fuels are being developed to serve as an alternative. Hybrid vehicles are a compromise between using a car and caring for the environment.

There are different types of hybrid vehicles. Each of them differs by what type of power source they are using. Although these cars may not run as fast as a conventional car on the highway, it's convenient for the suburban environment where traffic is normal.

Plug and play

Hybrid vehicles can be charged by using an external source. Although this was one of the earlier developments which made it one step ahead of conventional cars, it's not as practical as it sounds. Due to this plug-in hybrids were created. These vehicles have batteries which can be recharged through a standard wall socket.

Important developments weren't made until 2002. Plug-in hybrids were not sold commercially until 2003. The vehicles power source still operates the same way as a conventional hybrid but modified for the owner to be able to recharge it like an iPod.

These vehicles operate in 4 different modes. Charge depleting mode relies exclusively on electricity until the battery reaches a predetermined level. There is a predetermined level that automatically signals the car to stop running on electric power and switch to charge sustaining mode. The variation of this is the blended mode used by cars that cannot run at high speeds by using electric power alone and uses the diesel engine for help.

In charge sustaining mode it uses the combination of a diesel engine and its battery so that the vehicle will not exceed the predetermined level. This type of mode is used by conventional hybrids. In mixed, all of the modes mentioned are used and the vehicle switches between the four during the trip.

The disadvantage of the hybrid is the battery. Battery packs are expensive and can be large and heavy. Customers without garages will not be ale to recharge their cars because of the absence of an electric wall socket. Although emissions are reduced by the car it will be replaced by the plants that produce electricity. On the positive side pollution will be taken away from cities and the suburbs where it has a harmful effect on the health of the general public.

December 23, 2008

Midsize Hybrid Cars on the Market

Midsize Hybrid Cars on the Market

There are 4 competing midsize hybrid electric vehicles on the market: Honda Accord Hybrid, Toyota Camry, Lexus GS 450h, and the Nissan Altima Hybrid.

Honda Accord Hybrid. Even before the release of the Hybrid, the Honda Accord was the second best selling car in the country. But the Accord Hybrid did not live up to the title "best-seller". After soaring success in 2005, car sales plummeted when its rival the Toyota Camry Hybrid hit the market. In 2007, the hybrid version of the Accord was discontinued.

However, buying an Accord Hybrid will give you a good 30mpg/37mpg fuel rating. Accord is run by a powerful 3.0 L engine that produces 240-hp and 232 lb.-ft at 5000 RPM of torque. The electric motor is 16-hp with 100 lb.-ft at 840 rpm of torque. The sticker price of the Honda Accord Hybrid is approx. $30,000. You cannot buy a brand new Accord Hybrid from Honda but that's not the only place where you can buy a car, right?

Toyota Camry Hybrid. Camry is known for its comfort, safety, and dependability. And surely, these characteristics are carried out with the Toyota Camry Hybrid. Powered by 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and 105-kW electric motor and 244-volt battery pack, the Camry can deliver a total of 192 horsepower. It promises to run 33mpg in the city and 34mpg on the highway. The Camry's sticker price is at approx. $25,200. (The second generation Toyota Prius is classified as a midsize car.)

Lexus GS 450h. If you think that a hybrid should have a small engine, then, the Lexus GS 450h will change the way to think. This hybrid has 24-valve, 3.5-liter gasoline engine that produces 297-hp. That's just the half of it. The electric motor-generator produces 197 hp giving the driver of this car the power and sheer adrenaline rush. But don't be fooled, the Lexus GS 450h may perform like a sports car but it definitely has the luxury features you want in a midsize car. And why not? At the price of $55,000, you surely have to set high expectations.

Nissan Altima Hybrid. If you don't like the Toyota Camry and can't afford a Lexus GS 450h, then you can go for the Nissan Altima Hybrid. It is powered by a large 2.5-liter engine that produces 198 horsepower and 162 lb.-ft at 2800 RPM of torque. The Altima is only available in selected states including Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, and California. Fuel economy is impressive considering the size of the engine. It is rated at 35mpg/33mpg and priced at approx. $25,100.