Hybrid cars: What are they and what types exist?
Hybrid cars are extremely fast developing within the last years in terms of both sales and popularity. In addition to a reduction in pollutant emissions, this technology provides significant decrease in fuel consumption.
Over the last few years, the need to preserve the environment led to the introduction of different anti-pollution regulations intended to minimize, as far as possible, the harmful effects of pollution on health.
In 1992 was introduced the Euro 1 standard for passenger cars and light lorries, regulating emissions to be reduced through specific measures, such as the integration of catalytic converters and the switch to unleaded petrol.
However, the great technological breakthrough came with the introduction of hybrid technology into vehicles production. Today all manufacturers are launching different types of hybrid systems and continuously advancing in the evolution of their systems and engines.
So what are hybrid cars? In a nutshell - every car that has two engines, an internal combustion engine (ICE) that uses gasoline or diesel as fuel, and an electric motor that provides power and torque.
The hybrid vehicle is equipped with a gasoline ICE, an electric motor and a system of batteries or modules that provide the energy necessary for driving. It is an autonomous propulsion system, which automatically manages the operation and coordination of both engines, allowing the driver to focus on driving.
There are different types of conventional hybrid cars (if we exclude the plug-in versions). Depending on the system configuration, they can be serial, parallel or mixed hybrids.
Series (Extended-Range) Hybrids
In this configuration, an electric generator or alternator, which supplies power to the battery, or an electric motor is responsible for moving the wheels, not the ICE. There is no physical connection between the ICE and the wheels, therefore the electric motor secures the movement.
In this case, hybrid cars have an ICE and one or more electric motors that are powered by a battery or electric module. The torque, in this case, is generated by both engines to the transmission, being called in this case semi-hybrids
Mixed Hybrid or Full-Hybrid
In this type of hybrid car, the vehicle can move through each of its engines, because both have a direct connection to the wheels, and can run in electric mode in those cases where it is more efficient.
This model provides the vehicle with instantaneous power and uniform acceleration when the two engines are combined, being the most complete system. The battery, usually lithium-ion, is responsible for providing electricity to the electric generator and power to charge the engine. With this configuration it is possible to use the energy that is produced during the braking and deceleration phases, which allows decrease of fuel consumption.