Image Courtesy: BBC News Website

As the name itself suggests, a hybrid car should be a combination of something, right? Well, you are correct if you agree with me, for basically a hybrid car refers to a car which depends on the conventional gasoline engine plus an electrical driving aid for propulsion. Let us find out in this article why this is necessary and what advantages it has over a normal automobile, and to know the nitty-gritty of how does a hybrid car work?

We know that one of the greatest problems with gasoline engines is environmental pollution since toxic wastes are released as a by-product of combustion which takes place in the internal combustion engine of a normal car. A car may be very small compared to the environment but considering the fact that the total number of cars on the globe is huge as rising by the day, one can well imagine the overall combined effect of these vehicles over a prolonged period of time on the atmosphere.

Scientists, engineers and researchers have all been trying to build cars that run using different techniques which are less polluting including solar power, wind power, battery power and so forth. The main problem with any of these categories is that they depend on various elements beyond the direct control most of the times. For example just imagine yourself merrily going around a hill side on a bright sunny day in your solar powered car (without spending a penny on fuel) and suddenly the clouds cover the sky and you have nowhere to go!! Quite an unpleasant situation I must say, albeit an imaginary one. Another major point is that alternatively powered cars do not give as much power output as a conventional gasoline engine so not suitable for heavy duty circumstances.

The hybrid car tries to overcome this problem of lesser power output as well as high pollution by using an electric motor along with the gasoline engine. Whenever the vehicle is under conditions of low load, such as say standing on a traffic signal, the electric motor takes over temporarily while the engine shuts off, thus saving fuel and reducing emissions.

Apart from being used for propulsion at various times, the hybrid car also uses a system known as regenerative braking wherein the energy which is present in the form of kinetic energy of motion, gets stored in the battery of the electrical system of the car, rather than just being dissipated as frictional heat energy in a normal case. This also adds to the efficiency of the vehicle.

I must also add that the word hybrid isn’t very strictly defined but can be further subdivided into a few categories such as mild hybrid, full hybrid, plug-in hybrid, muscle hybrid and so forth, depending on how much or how less the electrical power is significant in the overall system.

To sum up, the hybrid vehicle provides several advantages such as greater travel distance without refilling the fuel tank, better energy efficiency, lesser emissions and so on. Also the lesser load of the gasoline engine means smaller engine could be fitted in the vehicle for the same performance of a normal car, which itself results in savings of cost and fuel.

The picture in this article shows the key components of a hybrid car as already explained in the article. Apart from that the top portion of the image shows the engine and electric systems during starting, normal driving, climbing and so forth. This would help the reader to visualize the basics in a single glance.

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