Consequently, if you are accelerating to cruising speed for motorway driving; going up hill or overtaking, the car will almost certainly use its liquid fuel engine and then as you slacken off the accelerator to, say, cruise down the motorway; go down the other side of the hill or to drive in heavy traffic, the computer will turn off the liquid fuel engine and turn on the electric engine.
The electric engine can be regarded as free to run, because it runs off batteries which are recharged by the car while it is using petrol or diesel and at some other times, such as whilst it is braking (and the alternators are recharging in both modes). You should never need to recharge your car's batteries overnight as they do with forklift trucks.
There are in essence two kinds of hybrid cars: the semi hybrids and the full hybrids.
The semi hybrids have the same type of set up: two engines, one running on liquid fuel and the other running on electricity, yet the electric motor is not capable of running the car on its own. It is there to 'assist' the petrol or diesel engine.
In this type of hybrid, the electric motor is called an 'assist'. These semi hybrids will save money on fuel, but whilst the car is moving, you are burning fuel all the time.
The main difference when it comes to the full hybrid is that both engines are capable of powering the car autonomously. Whilst you are running on electricity, you are running at zero expense to your wallet and at zero expense to the environment, unless you are actually pushing the car and then both engines might be working in union.
This switching of power sources is done automatically without any intrusion from the driver. In the case of the Prius, for example, this extraordinary achievement is accomplished by what Ford calls its Hybrid Synergy Drive. Other firms have their equivalent to the HSD.
In order to get the most out of these full hybrids, you really need to be doing an 'average amount' of driving under 'average' or 'mixed' circumstances. For instance, if you are driving in traffic, the car will try to use the electric engine, but if all you do is drive in inner city traffic jams the batteries will soon become depleted and you will be driving on liquid fuel all the time, which sort of negates the main reason for spending a lot extra on a hybrid in the first place.
The car needs to travel on open motorways in order to recharge its batteries so that it can use them when it gets back into town. If you only drive in town traffic, you might be better off getting a small run about instead.
About the Author: