What Is a Hybrid Vehicle and What Are the Benefits?

Over the last few years we have seen electric vehicles taking the headlines across the automotive industry and while there has been a large improvement in the associated technology, many people are also considering hybrid vehicles. While hybrids are often seen as something of a stop gap between traditional fueled vehicles and electric powered vehicles, what exactly is a hybrid vehicle?

Power source

The end power source for a hybrid vehicle is the electric motor which powers the wheels and on-board services. This is a fact which is often misunderstood by many people and indeed it is worth confirming exactly where the hybrid tag comes from.

As electric technology continues to evolve the comparison between journey capacity for traditional fueled vehicles and electric vehicles is moving favorably towards electric vehicles but there is still some way to go. The award-winning Nissan Leaf is able to do in excess of 100 miles per full battery charge but this is still nowhere near the capacity available from a traditional fueled vehicle with a full tank of gasoline/petrol.

Backup power source

As a consequence, many car manufacturers around the world have introduced hybrid systems which are effectively backup power supplies fuelled by gasoline/petrol which are then used to recharge the batteries which then power the electric vehicles. Due to the recharging capacity of the gasoline/petrol motors on many hybrid vehicles this can increase the journey capacity enormously and effectively make the hybrid vehicle as efficient if not better in terms of journey capacity.

There is an argument as to whether hybrid vehicles are in some ways more environmentally friendly although the fact that they do use traditional fuels to recharge the lithium ion batteries used to power the electric motors has caused some confusion.

Developments in hybrid vehicles

As battery capacity with regards to electric cars continues to improve there is the opportunity to replace current hybrid batteries with those offering a longer charge and more capacity. This would then ensure that the traditional fuel backup system is not required as often as it is at the moment and therefore improve the efficiency of the vehicle and also reduce ongoing damage to the environment.

For many people hybrid vehicles are a stepping stone along the track to full electric vehicles, as and when the technology improves and is comparable to traditional fuel powered vehicles, but until they see improvements in technology many people are concerned about charging stations and the reduced journey capacity of a full electric vehicle.

Conclusion

It will be interesting to see how the hybrid vehicle is impacted by the ever-growing advances in electric car technology which many believe will at some stage be comparable or better from a journey capacity point of view than their traditional fuel counterparts. How long this will take remains to be seen although there have been some very impressive advances in both electric power technology as well as battery power technology there is still much to do.

More and more experts believe that battery power technology is the key to the future of the electric car market and as such we have seen significant investment in this arena over the last few years. Much of this investment is now beginning to pay dividends and perhaps if the worldwide recession had not occurred we would be in a far stronger position with regards to electric vehicle sales?

The Worst Hybrid Vehicles

All things nice and everything nice, this phrase became associated with Hybrid vehicles. However, it was recently known that this statement might actually be not-so-true when information about some hybrid models that proved to be not-so-economical.

Chevrolet Tahoe 2-Mode Hybrid – Most consumers would have thought that when hybrid vehicles emerged into the market, it would be the very answer to every SUV owners’ fuel consumption dilemma. This belief gave a stronger effect when hybrid SUVs found their way into the market once more. Compared to standard SUV models, Chevrolet Tahoe boasts a 2-mode system allowing the vehicle to operate in 2-wheel and 4-wheel drive, gaining 40% improvement, at 20-21 miles per gallon. At a starting price of $50,490 MSRP, you could own this 2-Mode Hybrid baby. However, no matter how positive the modification can be with Chevrolet Tahoe, most consumers may not expect the same fuel economical benefits since this vehicle still cannot surpass nor even match the economic wise advantage of other hybrids can offer. While other hybrids continually amaze their owners for the gallon/mile consumption wonders, i.e., average of 50 miles per gallon, Chevrolet has evidently failed to pass the 2-Mode Hybrid as a cost-effective and ecologically-wise hybrid. With these factors in mind, prospective buyers should think it over first before investing on this hybrid. Would you still want a Major Brand of Vehicle, with a major deduction from your pockets?

Honda Accord Hybrid – How could you purchase a hybrid vehicle when they have not even passed their initial emission tests? This has been the case of Honda Accord Hybrid. In an attempt to modify the problems of the emissions unit, the model was temporarily retracted from the market by its makers. Unfortunately, despite Honda’s effort to regain the Accord’s hybrid image, the vehicle according to some reports in the internet, was said to have failed the emission test once again. Taking this into consideration, we should be well aware that a vehicle’s failure in emission test will cost you more money. First of all, the repair cost has to be shouldered by the owner, apart from this, there is also the cost to conduct the emission test once again. Three emission test failures mean you are in trouble – because it would mean that you will not be allowed to drive the vehicle legally. There is no sufficient info for consumers if Honda Accord Hybrid is still available in the market. Should you wish to check on their website homepage, prospective consumers find themselves looking at low-emissions Honda Coupe model, which is by the way a non-standard hybrid, when they search or click for a Hybrid models. A consumer must be very careful in the process of choosing Honda Accord Hybrid, especially with news such as non-passing of emission test for the first test still looms in the market.

Yes, we can be rest assured that most of the other hybrids available in the market have passed emission test in most of the states, and therefore are true to their name as hybrids. However, there will always be thorns among the roses, and these two hybrids are unfortunately considered as the thorns. Thorns in the ecological system as they have certainly failed the first stage of passing emission tests and thorns to the pocket of the poor consumers who have misleadingly invested for these type of vehicles without knowing the pros and cons.

If you are not yet one of those who have purchased these types of Hybrids, consider yourself lucky and now is the right time to exercise your right to choose. If fuel consumption and eco-awareness is one of the factors you have in mind in buying a Hybrid, then do your share of researching before investing on these vehicles. Remember, this is your money and it is indeed worthwhile to be extra careful before splashing out on these high-priced and yet, not-so-hybrids.

Natural Gas Vehicles Are Beating Out Electric Vehicles for Consumers Top Pick

Consumers have been selecting natural gas vehicles over electric vehicles at a rate of two to one. By year end there will be approximately 123,600 natural gas vehicles on our nation’s road as compared to 65,500 electric vehicles. Despite the lack of marketing or fueling infrastructure for natural gas, it is now the first choice among consumers looking to alternative ways to fuel their vehicles.

The drop in natural gas prices has helped fuel the demand; beating out the more heavily marketed and federally funded electric vehicles (EVs). Four years ago President Obama unveiled his vision of 1 million plug-in vehicles on U.S. roads by the 2015 and pumped $5 billion into funding for electric cars. In February the Obama admiration proposed the tax credit for plug-in vehicle be increased from $7,500 to $10,000 and also extend the credit to other alternative vehicles like natural gas.

In response to the higher demand from motorist, Honda began showing it’s Honda Civic GX natural gas vehicle in car showrooms across the country, where previously it had only been marketed as a fleet vehicle. It is currently the only NGV sedan on the market. Honda says the marketing is paying off big for them, and sales of the vehicle are continuing to break new monthly highs. Although the choices are few for compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles, it should be pointed out that conventional gasoline and diesel vehicles can be retrofitted for CNG. If natural gas is available at your home you can install a pumping station inside your garage.

CNG is safe or at least safer than gasoline, Although CNG is flammable, it has a narrow flammability range, and if released by accident it quickly disperses making it less likely to ignite than gasoline. CNG is also non-toxic, it dissipates when released and will not leak to contaminate soil and water supplies.

The natural gas used in vehicles is classified into two types compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas(LNG). According to fueleconomy.gov “eighty-seven percent of the natural gas consumed in the U.S.is also produced here; which greatly reduces are dependency on foreign imports. It is 60%-90% less polluting than traditional fuels. With 30%-40% less greenhouse gas emissions and is less expensive than gasoline. At the present time the main disadvantages of CNG vehicles is the lack of facilities available to pump the gas, fewer miles to the tank and few choice available by auto makers.

All gas vehicles depend on fossil fuel. The natural gas obtained from drilling is a fossil fuel and while no fossil fuels are considered to be renewable resources because of the millions of years needed for the earth to produce them; natural gas is primarily methane and methane gas can be produced as a renewable resource. Methane gas is currently being collected from landfills and produced from rotting vegetation and animal manure.

CNG vehicles are cheaper to operate than conventional vehicles and burn cleaner than gasoline vehicles. Electric vehicles running on electricity alone put out “0” emissions at the tail pipe, but the electricity providing that power is generated at power plants running off fossil fuels. The U.S. Department of Energy states that “PHEVs (plugin hybrid electric vehicles) and EVs (electric vehicles) typically have a well-to-wheel emissions advantage over similar conventional vehicles running on gasoline or diesel.

However, in communities that depend heavily on conventional fossil fuels for their electricity generation, PEVs (Plugin Electric Vehicles) may not demonstrate a well-to-wheel emissions benefit.”

The switch from diesel to CNG is the larger trend for cities and municipalities across the country. The U.S Department of Transportation provides grants for upgrading mass transit and many cities are already using those dollars to advance their fleets over to CNG vehicles.

The future for NGV remains uncertain; although the advantages seem clear, reduce dependency on foreign oil, cleaner energy for the environment, lower cost to fuel. The largest drawback is the lack of infrastructure for refueling. As government agencies along with private fleet owned vehicles begin to convert vehicles from gasoline to NGV the private sector will also begin to benefit from their expansion. Improvements in refueling technology and engine performance will also soon follow. It will likely be the consumers, who ultimately decide our next energy of choice.