How Hybrid Vehicles Work | Hyundai Canada

Explanation of how hybrid vehicles work, featuring the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

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How Hybrid Vehicles Work:

How much are you paying at the fuel pump? All too often the answer is simply ‘too much’.

Fuel economy plays a big role in many new vehicle choices and the arrival of hybrid technology has offered a new option for those looking to drive the maximum distance per dollar.

Hybrid cars undoubtedly offer superior fuel economy, but making the switch can be a big decision.
Want to know if a hybrid is right for you? First you have to understand how they work, what types there are and what benefits they really offer.

So let’s start by answering some straightforward questions:

1. What Actually Are Hybrids?

As it happens there are a few different kinds of hybrid cars, the basic definition is any vehicle utilizing more than one source of power. In Canada, the most popular hybrids pair gasoline engines with electric motors, although there are alternatives that run off diesel and natural gas. The fuel and battery sources work together to propel the car forward, as well to run electronics like headlights and climate control.

To get a little more technical, there are three main hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV) system designs.

Parallel hybrids: These depend on both a fuel and electric source to propel the car forward. An engine and an electric motor are both linked to the car’s transmission, which in turn moves the wheels. When the battery runs out of power, the fuel engine takes over.

Series-Parallel hybrids: These have an engine and two electric motors. As with parallel hybrids the main electric motor works with the engine to move the vehicle, while the second smaller motor is used for charging the car’s battery during use.

Series hybrids: The fuel-based engine isn’t linked to the wheels at all, but instead keeps the electric engine going.

2. What Kind of Batteries Do Hybrids Use?

The first hybrids used nickel metal hydride (NiMH) and lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries. Today, Li-ion units are still widely used. They provide many benefits, including efficiency in charging and discharging, and improved power and energy density over NiMH batteries. The battery packs store the electricity needed to power hybrid cars’ electric engines.

However, the latest hybrid cars, such as the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, take advantage of new moulding opportunities found in lithium polymer (Li-poly) batteries. They can take any shape and fill any space, making them convenient for maximizing space under the hood.

3. How Do Hybrids Save Fuel?

Hybrids have one clear advantage over regular gasoline engines; using less fuel.

Since hybrid vehicles are supported by both a gasoline and an electric motor, drivers burn less fuel. Hybrid cars can also be designed with smaller, more efficient fuel engines, so that every gallon litre goes further
In addition most hybrids have an automatic fuel start stop, described by the CAA as “one of the greatest fuel-saving features of [hybrids]”. Hybrid drivers stuck in traffic or at stop lights are getting virtually 0 km per litre, making hybrids especially helpful for city dwellers.

What’s more hybrids can actually help you become a more efficient driver. An extra feature of most hybrids is an integrated technology display that provides an overview of the car’s fuel usage and efficiency. The latest, such as the Hyundai’s Sonata Hybrid Technology Display, have added gamification, teasing drivers toward better driving habits.

The hybrid technology display has two screens of importance: the ECO Score screen and Total ECO Score screen. The ECO Score screen displays an assessment of a driver’s habits every eight minutes. If someone is doing well, they’re rewarded with a green bar. Once eight bars have filled up, the driver is assigned a Total ECO Score point. For every 20 points earned, a new planet is displayed on the Total ECO Score screen. Drivers fine-tune their habits while creating their own galaxies.

So now you have a better picture of how the cars work you can see that these vehicles are designed with the express purpose of saving you fuel.

If going further with each litre is you main priority, it’s time to start thinking about a hybrid.

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