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All About Hybrid Vehicles

All About Hybrid Vehicles

Hyundong Cho, age 13

Hybrid cars are becoming more common in the 21st century. It is no surprise that the technology for building hybrid cars has gotten more accurate and intense. Hybrid car owners may know that their car is earth-friendly but may not know how the car operates. This article is more than enough to get people’s brains caught up on hybrid cars.

Ferdinand Porsche is the first person (company) to create a hybrid vehicle. The first hybrid car, Lohner-Porsche Mixte, contains a common four-cylinder engine with two motors to make it a hybrid car (Porsche Cars North America), (Figure 1). Air pollution was becoming a problem for humanity, so many countries took action. Thereby, the car companies focused on electric/hybrid cars. 

Figure 1: The first hybrid car, Lohner-Porsche Mixte. Photo from Motorbiscuit.

The most popular first mass-produced EV/hybrid was the Toyota Prius and the Rav-4 EV. Even though the Toyota Prius was mass-produced, it was only in Japan where the mass-production happened. In 1999, the Honda Insight became the first mass-produced hybrid car in the United States. Finally, the Prius began mass-producing in the United States in the 2000s, which sparked the interest of the car companies to produce more advanced hybrid vehicles (Cars Direct).

The demand for hybrid cars escalated due to air pollution and from the quick development in the industry. Therefore, the hybrid car market has gotten broader with more competition. Currently, the cheapest hybrid vehicle is the Ford Maverick, with $19,995. Hybrid cars can also go as high as the Lamborghini Sian, which costs $3.6 million (Perry) (Perez).

Hybrid cars have evolved quickly, but their main concept stays the same: having a battery that the engine can rely on. The hybrid car’s main power is the engine, and the battery is in contact with the motor to give a slight push. It is a rare case, but in some hybrid vehicles, it is the opposite. The battery does all the power and the engine is simply there to recharge the battery. 

How do hybrid cars save energy? The idea is simple: the wheel acts like a windmill. The speed that the car is going at goes directly to the battery if the engine is not being used. When the car accelerates again, the battery aids the engine by giving it a slight push. 

Even though hybrid cars still release carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons, hybrid cars do not release as much as internal combustion engine cars.  Since the battery is there to aid the engine, the engine does not have to generate as much power. Therefore, hybrid cars release less harmful chemicals than internal combustion vehicles (Department of Environmental Conservation).

There is also a different version of hybrid cars called Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV). PHEVs are based on hybrid cars but are in their separate category of cars. PHEVs can recharge like electric cars by plugging in a charger, while traditional hybrid cars cannot recharge by plugging in. Both types of hybrid cars can charge their battery. Plug-in hybrids carry longer distances due to their bigger batteries. Hybrid cars are most common, as they have been the quickest to be the most easy-to-use. The electric cars are next, because of Tesla, a car company owned by Elon Musk. Next is PHEV, which is increasing slowly in terms of the number of units sold. Consumers buy hybrid cars because of their cheap price and good reliability. 

Which is more earth-friendly: Hybrid cars, PHEV, or fully electric cars? Technically, PHEV will be the least efficient, as they have to replace the battery and emit gas as well. Then, it will be the electric cars as their battery is made out of unrenewable products, the ones that are similar to the batteries in PHEVs but not in hybrids. Therefore, hybrids are the most earth-friendly out of those three options. The electricity that charges the electric/PHEV vehicles might not be made from renewable energy. The batteries are also harmful to the earth, so if the batteries are bigger, it is more harmful (Donut Media).

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