By Sam Goss, Vivian Ma, Kyle Rader


    Hybrid cars, trucks, and buses are becoming more and more widely used everyday.  Major cities such as San Francisco and Washington D.C. are adopting hybrid technology for their public transportation uses.  As the price for hybrid vehicles drops, the number of hybrids on the road rises.  Experts believe that hybrids provide necessary alleviation to the country's ever-increasing demand for petroleum.


A Brief History

-In 1769, the first steam powered motor carriage as built by Frenchman Micholas Cugnot. It was capable of moving six miles per hour.

-In 1839, Robert Anderson from Scotland builds the first electric vehicle

-Based in Connecticut, The Pope Manufacturing Company built about 500 electric cars in 1897, taking about two years.

-In 1898, Dr. Ferinand Porsche built the Lohner Electric Chaise. His second car was a hybrid that could travel 40 miles on battery alone.


-1899- In a merger between Pope Manufacturing Company and two smaller electric car companies, Electric Vehicle Company was created. They contributed to the first large scale operation in the US automobile industry with assets of $200 million

-In 1904, Henry Ford introduced his low priced, lightweight, gas powered cars and Electric Vehicle Company failed a few years after.

-1913- Steamers and electrics are almost wiped out with the invention of the self-starter which made it easier for drivers to start gas engines. Sales of electric cars drop to 6,000 and the Ford Model T sells over 182,000 gasoline cars.

-In 1966, a bill was introduced by Congress that recommended the use of electric vehicles to reduce air pollution.

-“Public Law 94-413, the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1976” This law introduced by Congress to begin work with industries to improve “batteries, motors, controllers, and other hybrid-electric components.”

-In the late 70’s Electric cars were expected to be in production by the mid 80’s after $20 million was spent on development and research on electric cars.

-By 1991, The United States Advanced Battery Consortium launches the program “Super” battery. This was in hope of getting electric cars on the road as soon as possible. They invested over $90 million in the nickel hydride battery. This battery could accept three times as many charge cycles as lead acid.

-1997- Japan – the Toyota Prius goes on public sale and sells almost 18,000 vehicles in the first year.


-Between 1997 and 1999, Honda, General Motor, Ford, and Toyota introduced a small number of all-electric cars in California. They failed to have a few hundred drivers per model and the all-electric programs were dropped within a few years.

-Honda introduced the first hybrid car in the US in 1999 called the Insight. This hybrid car received 61 mpg and 70 mpg highway.


-In 2000, Toyota released the Prius in the US. Two years later Honda’s second hybrid to hit the US, the Honda Civic Hybrid is introduced.

-By 2004, the demand for the Toyota Prius was so high that production increased from 36,000 to 47,000 in the US and buyers waited up to six months for the vehicle.

-In September of 2004, Ford introduces the first American and First SUV hybrid with the Escape Hybrid.


-2005 - Isuzu introduced the Elf Diesel Hybrid Truck on the Japanese Market --approximately 300 of these vehicles, mostly route buses, are using Hinos HIMR (Hybrid Inverter Controlled Motor & Retarder) system.

-2005 - New York City added six Ford Escape Hybrids to their taxi fleet and city officials believe the entire fleet of 13,000 vehicles could be converted to hybrid within five years


What is a hybrid car?

A hybrid car features a small fuel proficient gas engine that combined with an electric motor that supports the engine when accelerating. The electric motor is powered by the batteries that recharge automatically while you drive.
    Many people have not realized that they have owned a hybrid vehicle at some point. Indeed, hybrid automobiles are all around us and most of the hybrid cars on the road now are gasoline-electric hybrids. 
    However, the hybrid car offers drivers an innovative, modern, efficient and affordable opportunity. Therefore, after year and year the new hybrid car has become a convenient choice for the consumers.



Hybrid Car Performance 

    The difference between a conventional car engine and a hybrid-car engine are its engine size. Hybrid-cars' engines are much smaller than a conventional car, but it’s able to perform almost the same performance a conventional car can. The efficiency in a small engine can be improved by using smaller, lighter parts, by reducing the number of cylinders and by operating the engine closer to its maximum load to equal to or if not better than what most cars uses a relatively big engine to produce enough power to accelerate the car quickly.

    There are a few advantages in having a smaller engine than a big one. A larger engine uses larger cylinders so more fuel is required in each cylinder, and each cylinder uses fuel every time the engine fires, even if the car isn't moving. Smaller cylinders uses smaller pistons and other internal components, which are lighter and use less energy each time they go up and down in the cylinder. Hybrid-cars use less fuel to drive because it uses a smaller and lighter engine. The hybrid-cars can keep up with a conventional car and uses less fuel because when it needs extra power to accelerate the electric motor and battery steps in to give it an extra push.



How Does it Work?

    First off, a fuel cell is an electrochemical energy conversion device. A fuel cell converts the chemicals hydrogen and oxygen into water, and in the process it produces electricity. Layers of materials with different electrochemical properties put together to form a single galvanic cell. In the middle lies a membrane that can only be crossed by charged molecules. Gas-permeable electrodes coated with a catalyst adhere to this membrane, adding a layer on either side. These electrodes are in turn connected to a device that can utilize electricity which creates a complete electrical circuit. Hydrogen gas flows into channels on one face of the cell and migrates through that electrode, while the same occurs with oxygen gas along the opposite electrode. Moved by a catalyst, favorable chemistry causes the hydrogen to oxidize into hydrogen protons and give up its electrons to the neighboring electrode, which thereby becomes the anode. This buildup of negative charge then follows the path of least resistance via the external circuit to the other electrode - (the cathode). It is this flow of electrons through a circuit that creates electricity.


     As the electrical current begins to flow, hydrogen protons pass through the membrane from the anode to the cathode. When the electrons return from doing work they react with oxygen and the hydrogen protons at the cathode to form water. Heat emanates from this union as well as from the frictional resistance of ion transfer through the membrane. This thermal energy can be utilized outside the fuel cell. An individual fuel cell produces DC electricity at a low-voltage. To meet common power needs, multiple fuel cells are arranged face-to-face in series to create a fuel cell stack. This inherent modularity of fuel cells allows them to be manufactured in virtually any size.

-The latest wave of hybrid vehicles uses an electric motor coupled with a standard internal combustion gas engine.


Gasoline-electric hybrid structure

    A gasoline-electric hybrid car contains a gasoline engine, a fuel tank, an electric motor, a generator, batteries and transmission. The gasoline engine in a hybrid car is like the engines u finds on most cars but smaller and uses advanced technologies to reduce emissions and increase efficiency. The electric motor has advanced electronics allow it to act as a motor and a generator. It can draw energy from the batteries to move the car and it can slow the car down and return energy to the batteries. The generator only produce electrical power and it is used mostly on series hybrids. The batteries store energy to allow the electric motor to draw and put back energy.

    There are two types of hybrids, a parallel hybrid and a series hybrid. A parallel hybrid has an engine that draws gasoline from the fuel tank and a set of batteries that supplies power to the electric motor. The transmission can be turned by the engine and the electric motor at the same time and then the transmission turns the wheels. In a series hybrid, the gasoline engine turns a generator, and the generator can either charge the batteries or power an electric motor that drives the transmission, but unlike a parallel hybrid the gasoline engine never directly powers the vehicle.


Hybrid Cars

-Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mercury, Nissan, PSA (Peugeot-Citröen), Renault, and Toyota all offer (or are in production) of their own hybrid cars.

-Hybrid car companies offer tax credits after purchase. These tax credits range between $ 2,000 and $3,500 dollars.  A tax credit is often considered better than a tax refund.  A tax credit deducts from the initial cost of taxes rather than a refund, which gives you money back after you pay.

-Hybrid vehicles alternate their power source from the electric to the gasoline fueled engines.  At a stopping point, the gas power turns off and the electric turns on.  The initial propulsion of the car is electric, followed by gasoline.


-In New Jersey, owners of hybrid cars are allowed to use the HOV lane even if they are the only one in the car.

-Aviva auto insurance is offering a 10% discount to hybrid car owners.

-Some car companies now offer “aftermarket hybrid kits” that can be installed on traditional cars.  These kits, after installation, will transform select standard vehicles into functioning hybrids.

-Some major cities such as New York and Seattle have proposed new bills that call for the institution of hybrid taxi’s.


        -Hybrid computer systems are not perfect (sometimes they will crash)

        -Many drivers feel uncomfortable that the engine noticeably switches from gas to electric. Still unknown maintenance costs and average life of vehicles.  The somewhat high initial cost of vehicle.  Not much trunk space due to the large battery size.


    -Hybrids usually get between 30-50 mpg.

    -Tax credit from the government

    -Hybrid technology causes less wear and tear on the engine and brakes (resulting in less maintenance costs)


Hybrid Trucks

-As of now, most of the hybrid trucks in the U.S. are for military use.  It is only recently that car companies have started producing hybrid trucks for sale.  The Saturn vue and the ford escape are two of these light hybrid trucks.  Mercedes was the first company to release hybrid truck, the Hybrid-Sprinter in 2004.

-Hybrid trucks usually balance gasoline or diesel fuel with an electric engine.   Like a hybrid car, they alternate their use.


-Customers usually have the same complaints about light trucks that they do about hybrid cars.

-Hybrid diesel trucks are especially popular for large rigs such as miners, dump trucks, and construction vehicles.

-Hybrid trucks cost around $3000 dollars more than a conventional model of the same truck.

-Soon Toyota along with many other car companies will begin production of their own hybrid SUV’s

-In one year’s time, the sale of hybrid SUV’s has gone up 54% but still only amount for around 3% of the vehicles sold in 2006.


Hybrid Buses


-Today, many cities use hybrid buses for their public transportation.  These diesel-hybrid buses are produced by the Daimler-Chrysler Corporation.

-Hybrid buses reduce public transportation gas emissions by roughly 30%.

-They also reduce particle emissions by around 90%.

-If America's nine largest cities replaced their transit fleets—totaling 13,000 buses—with GM's hybrid buses, GM states the cities would save 40 million gallons of fuel each year—a greater savings than 500,000 small hybrid vehicles.

-The buses use a revolutionary new system that stores excess heat from braking, rather than releasing it.

-Though they cost around 150,000 more than a conventional bus, they are predicted to severely reduce the annual bus maintenance costs.  This means that overtime, the bus will earn its owner’s money back.

-The new buses provide a smoother ride, less engine noise, and quicker acceleration than conventional buses.


Hybrid Car's Negative Environmental Impact

    If you think that driving a hybrid car is saving the environment, then you're only half correct. A hybrid car not only requires lots of new technology and high tech components. It is also harder to build because of its complexity, which means more energy is used in building the car. Even though a hybrid car has an electrical motor, but it also has a combustion engine. A combustion engine, like you will find on a regular conventional car, still produces pollutants. It just produces less carbon dioxide than a regular car. Hybrid cars use plenty of copper wire for the electric motors, which makes the price of the car goes up more. Hybrids need more power to produce the usual performance that a conventional car can because they are commonly 10 percent heavier than a similar car. It is true that hybrids are producing fewer pollutants while you’re driving but only when it is at a pretty much complete stop or a really heavy traffic jam. When driving on a highway or simply just trying to pass a semi-fast vehicle next to u, the petrol engine will be working this whole entire time, which means it is putting out pollution to the environment the way that a conventional car would be doing. 



Positive Environmental Impact of Hybrid Cars

    Hybrid cars have a few positive effects on the environment to attract consumers. Hybrids are known to have a gas engine and an electric motor that works independently to save gas. It is able to reach to more than 60 miles per gallon of gas. Because both the electric motor and the gas engine work independently, when driving at low speeds, the electric motor will work on its own and shutting off the gas engine unless it needs more power or to recharge. At a complete stop the combustion engine turns off the entire time. Hybrids are best for consumers that drive in cities. Not only newer models of sports hybrids are being made, but also making hybrid SUV’s and trucks available for consumers’ need. Of course the faster and heavier the vehicle is, the more gas it is bound to use. Still, hybrids are the most gas efficient and environmental friendly vehicles in mass production today.



What is the good impact of a hybrid car?

Hybrid car gain efficiency from:

1.      Smaller and more efficient engines

2.      Regenerative braking, which mean the electric motor that drives the hybrid can also slow down the car. When this approach, the electric motor acts as a generator and charges the batteries while the car is slowing down.


3.      Periodic Engine shut off, is when a hybrid car is stopped in traffic or a sudden stop, the engine will eventually shut off. Its restarts automatically when put back into gear.

4.      advanced aerodynamic – to reduce drag

5.      Low-rolling resistance tires – hybrid cars maintain narrow, stiffer tires that have less drag.

6.      Lightweight materials that will temporality increase the efficiency of hybrid cars. 



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