I get asked a lot about Hybrid Cars. What are they? Are they as good for the environment as everyone thinks they are? How do you charge it up? Here is a quick explanation on Hybrid cars.
Hybrid cars use a combination of battery technology (electric engine) and a petrol engine. There are four main technologies available currently:
POWER SPLIT or SERIES PARALLEL HYBRID – the electric engine can power the car on its own. Examples include the Toyota Prius.
PARALLEL HYBRID – the electric engine assists the petrol engine when it’s moving. Examples include the Honda Civic Hybrid.
SERIES HYBRID – mostly runs on battery, and the petrol engine recharges the battery. Currently the only series hybrid in Australia is the Holden Volt.
PLUG IN HYBRIDS– supplement energy generation by charging from the power grid, however these are not yet common in Australia. How environmentally friendly, or “green” these cars are depending on where the car owner sources their electricity (coal fired or other green energy source).
BUT CHARGING THE BATTERY?
The type of hybrid you have will determine how the battery is recharged. With one type you can plug-in your vehicle and recharge the batteries via an outlet. This can take several hours. The cost involved will change, depending on the time of day or night you’re charging your vehicle, meaning you will be paying anywhere from as low as 25 cents. That said, you can still use your petrol engine as a generator to combine with regenerative braking and feed electricity back to the batteries.
Regenerative braking sees energy from the brakes captured and converted into electricity used to recharge the batteries. This method works everytime you place your foot on the brakes or lift off the accelerator; it’s capturing energy that would otherwise be lost as either heat or noise (from the brakes).
It is said that the lifespan of a Hybrid battery can be approximately 10 years and they can be costly to replace.
Are they really as environmentally friendly as reported? Generally, they are a greener option than petrol vehicles because of their fuel economy. They also emit less Greenhouse gases than petrol driven motors, anywhere up to 66% less emissions, depending on the Hybrid car type.
SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE
One of my family members owns a Toyota Prius, so I asked for her first-hand opinion on the hybrid vehicles compared to a full petrol one:
“I can’t talk more highly of a hybrid vehicle. The Prius is a great little car. What shocked me first time I drove in it was how quiet the hybrid motor is! You can barely hear it running. The battery charges up fairly quickly as well when using the petrol motor, which comes on when there isn’t enough power from the electric motor. The fuel economy on it is fantastic. We are lucky to use $20 a fortnight in fuel for it, and that is driving it around a fair bit. It is also a zippy little thing to drive, and it does have some power when you want it or need it.”
Townsville Mobile Mechanic does service Hybrids, so if you have any questions, or need any help with any car issue, give us a call on 0400401171 or via our Facebook page or website.