What Is A Hybrid Car? An Overview Of The Hybrid

What's Going On In There?

There are many ways hybrid cars are different from standard vehicles. There's emissions, fuel consumption, cost and, of course, the mechanics of it all. The main difference between the two is that a hybrid car uses electricity combined with gasoline and a standard vehicle uses only gasoline.

In a gas-powered car, fuel runs the engine, which turns the transmission, which then rotates the wheels and propels the car forward. These standard cars create more pollution and further our dependence on oil. With prices at the pump rising every week, these cars represent not only a less than eco-friendly mode of transport, but also a big bite out of your wallet.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, are electric cars which use batteries to power the engine and turn the transmission and wheels. Electric cars have not been seen as feasible for the mainstream market because of two main factors: cost and performance. Existing batteries can not run for very long before they exhaust themselves and must be replaced. Additionally, the cost of production on these batteries is very high.

In the middle, are hybrid cars. They use a combination of fuel and batteries to run the vehicle. A gas-fueled engine powers a generator that is used to either charge electric batteries or power an electric motor that then spins the transmission and wheels. When possible, the batteries are used to charge the electric motor, instead of the generator. These power sources switch as a car faces different driving conditions and you, the driver, get the best of both worlds.

For the true nuts and bolts (along with a diagram or a hybrid car/system), howstuffworks.com is always a great place to start! Other resources include What Is A Hybrid Car, How Hybrid Cars Work, and the History of Hybrids.

So what makes a hybrid so efficient?

The fact that gas is not directly powering the car. Since a gas-fueled engine is powering a generator (and not turning the transmission - a much larger job), it can be much smaller and lighter, which results in less of a load for the car to work to carry. Having the flexibility to run the motor on batteries or generator power also cuts down on the total amount of fuel used.

What's next?

The future of hybrid cars has endless possibilities. One trend would be to create a car that ran on electric batteries (charged by plugging the car in, hence the name "plug-in hybrids") until they were exhausted and then move to fuel. This would use less fuel because some of the battery power would come from the grid, as opposed to a gas powered generator.

Jeff Carey is a green vehicle enthusiast who manages a portfolio of more than 60 hybrid and electric blogs. Learn more and subscribe to his monthly newsletter at http://www.hybridkingdom.com.

Electric Car - Unlimited Range

Pretty much everyday something new is announced in the electric car industry, but what Renault has just unveiled is truly revolutionary. Introducing the 2112 Fluence Z.E. Primetime, launched in Copenhagen, Denmark and carrying the distinction of the world's first "unlimited range" electric vehicle.

What Exactly Is This Technology?
For many years, electric car manufacturers have struggled with the problem of extremely heavy battery packs and the long charging duration. This in itself has kept many away from purchasing an electric car for their personal use. While it is true that the industry at large as managed to get these car batteries down to a more appreciable size, there is still the inconvenience of having to charge them over and over. People who live in apartment complexes often have no means for connecting their batteries to a power outlet. The Renault Fluence Z.E. Primetime has solved this problem by incorporating the latest and most advance lithium ion battery manufactured, and drivers will now be able to use the services of a limited (but expanding) number of stations throughout Denmark to exchange the batteries when they are depleted, a process that takes less than five minutes.

Fluence Z.E. Primetime Fact Sheet
The car itself is a mid-size vehicle that includes such features as climate control, navigation assistant, CD audio, electric windows and mirrors, alloy wheels, and the aforementioned switchable battery, which can deliver enough current for a total of 185 km (115 miles) driving before the battery must be replaced. The battery itself has been designed to fit easily into the vehicle and be removed with a tooling system that inserts a new battery immediately at the switching stations being set up across Denmark. The car will go on sale to the public in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Different Packages Available
Better Place, a company that pairs with Renault in the development of electric vehicles, announced a total of five different buying packages for the Fluence Z.E Primetime model. Depending on the number of kilometers driven annually, buyers can choose to purchase different amounts of electric fuel credits that insure not only speedy replacement of exhausted batteries, but also a private charging station at their place of residence.

A Vision Of Our Future Vehicles
Renault and Better Place have been designing an overall plan to make these "unlimited range" vehicles commonplace not only in Denmark but around the globe. Rather than trying to shove electric vehicle technology down the throats of the public, they have managed to give a realistic vision of what could be the dominant form of car technology in the very near future. In this era of environmentally-friendly technology, and the attention given to possible climate change and the need to phase out dependency on fossil fuels, the Fluence Z.E. Primetime is certainly a big step forward in the search for a clean energy vehicle that allows drivers the same freedom of traveling options as the cars and trucks currently operating on the streets of the world.

Will the Fluence Z.E. Primetime make it big? The answer is just around the corner, as Better Place has engineered a bold plan to make these switchable battery vehicles and their network of charging stations within reach of every resident of Denmark.

There's a lot of buzz on what's going to happen to the rates for auto insurance Canada when it comes to hybrid and fully electric cars. Some say it will be higher due to the more expensive parts, others say it will decrease, due to the safety of the vehicles. We're not exactly sure, time will tell.

Electric Car Charging Stations In Ontario

Exciting new developments in the automotive world are helping to speed along the development and sale of all-electric vehicles around the world. Nissan has recently unleashed its all-electric Nissan Leaf compact car, and Chevrolet is moving forward with its elect-gas hybrid Volt sedan. For Ontario motorists, this automotive revolution will be backed up by charging stations throughout the province.

Every massive new change in how we use our vehicles has to start somewhere, and in Ontario it's starting in eight cities with electric charging stations. Those cities include Toronto, Vaughan, Markham, Barrie, Ajax and Bowmanville.

Unlike major gas stations, which can sometimes handle up to sixteen vehicles at one time, Ontario's electric car charging stations are capable of charging on two cars at any given time. However, it's important to remember that these stations are currently a "proof of concept." At the moment, they're open only to corporate fleets of electric cars owned by Ontario's electric utility companies. As the demand for electric car charging stations increases, their size and capacity will necessarily increase relative to that demand.

Indeed, demand is likely to skyrocket in the coming years. The electric Ford Focus model, the Chevrolet Volt, and the Nissan Leaf are all expected to become available in Canada sometime later in 2011; Ontario has set the ambitious goal of having 1 in 20 automobiles on province highways powered by electricity in 2020.

To ensure that this demand is met adequately, the current charging stations are being rigorously tested and monitored for performance and efficiency. It's important to remember that, unlike gasoline, and electric charge takes a great deal of time to build up. And an all-electric vehicle has a pretty sizable battery to fill, with a range of up to 340 miles on a single charge.

To compensate for this fact, the utility companies are monitoring their electric vehicles battery levels and charging rates at Ontario's eight electric charging stations. They're looking at information such as how quickly the battery drains in real-world driving conditions, how quickly it can recover its charge at a charging station, and how costly it is to complete a charge on the road.

Because electricity differs from oil in that it comes from a generation plant rather than a barrel, generation costs at a utility plant must be taken into consideration when charging for an electric fill-up. These costs can be quite high at current levels, as the market is still adjusting to the concept of electric charging rates.

To help offset this large costs, the utility companies are working on a system where electric car users would be able to skip the charging process altogether and instead swap out the car's drained battery for a new, fully charged model. It would decrease the amount of time spent at a charging station and allow the station to charge a flat rate for battery replacement that would be consistent across the board and highly affordable.

Because a battery swap wouldn't place a heavy burden on generation companies, the charging station could charge the battery on its own time, at a slower (more affordable) rate, and pass that lower rate on to customers.

No matter what the final business model, these eight prototype stations across Ontario are a promising sign of a future that moves beyond pricy petroleum products. Only market forces and scientific advancement will determine what an electric charging station eventually looks like, but this preview is a great way to get early insight into the process.

Long are the days of looking for classic car insurance. Now, it will be all about trying to find the cheapest electric car insurance on these high tech new gadgets.