Understanding Hybrid Cars in 2017

Why Buy a Hybrid Car?

Gasoline offers more energy per volume than electric motors and storage of gasoline in a tank is significantly cheaper than the price of storing electricity in a battery. However, electric motors are three times more efficient than a gasoline engine.

Therefore, in 2017, the best of both worlds is found in a hybrid vehicle. You can rely on electric motors’ excellent energy economy over short distances while still having the gasoline engine there to give you further range and practicality. Current hybrid cars typically get about 30% better gas mileage than their gas-only equivalents.

Hybrid cars are more expensive than non-hybrids, but you’ll find the gas savings make up this difference within just a few years and the rest is all profit.

Types of Hybrid Cars

Now that almost all manufacturers have jumped on the hybrid bandwagon there is a wide range of hybrid and electric car options out there, and more appear on a yearly basis. The two main types of hybrid vehicles available today are hybrid cars and hybrid SUVs.

Hybrid and electric cars include everything from small hatchbacks to family and luxury sedans. There are even sports coupes. Under the hood, you’ll find a number of powertrain setups from mild hybrids to pure electric vehicles with extended range. The Toyota Prius was one of the models that first made it into the public consciousness, but a less gaudy example would be the 2017 Buick Lacrosse Hybrid.

Hybrid SUVs are relatively new on the scene, but they actually save us more gas than small hybrid economy cars do over their gas counterparts. Consider the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. It will get you 25 miles to the gallon – an efficient number for a large SUV. It’s much more efficient than its gas rivals that are the same size as it. Also, consider that it will get better gas mileage than a traditional sedan and offers you much more – it seats seven people, there’s loads of cargo room, and even has all-wheel-drive, something that would see it with markedly lower mpg figures were it simply a gas powertrain.

Hybrid SUVs run a gamut from the smallest Subaru Crosstrek to the lavish Lexus RX 450h. They are replacing hybrid cars as the poster child for efficiency with versatility, as they’re also able to perform useful duties like moderate towing.

Hybrid Technologies

A hybrid will almost always be combining a gas engine with an electric motor that stores energy in a battery. However, there are a number of ways this can be achieved, all with different levels of efficiency.

The simplest form of a hybrid vehicle is known as a mild hybrid. In this case, the gas engine is the primary driving force behind motivation with the electric motor only boosting the power sometimes to take some of the load, increasing fuel efficiency.

A full hybrid, on the other hand, has the ability to power the vehicle’s motion on electricity alone – for a short period of time. Toyota and Ford hybrid systems typically use a full hybrid setup, and the gas engine is only employed when traveling further distances or at faster speeds. All plug-in hybrids are full hybrids by nature.

Some hybrid models offer only a series design where the electric motor does the peddling and the gas engine generates electricity for the electric motor. More common now are parallel hybrids that can use either the gas engine or the electric engine to motivate the car, or they can work together.

Plug-in hybrids are exciting in that they can be plugged into the wall and charged directly. They can offer a range of between 15 and 50 miles on electric power alone, so if you’re only using them for a commute you may find that the gas engine is rarely even engaged.

You can charge a plug-in hybrid using a standard 110-volt outlet, but this can take many hours. A better option is to install a home charging station that will halve the charging time required. It is not always practical for everyone and you might find yourself somewhere without a fast charging station. However, with a plug-in hybrid there’s the advantage over pure electric vehicles in that you have the gas engine to back you up should you unexpectedly find yourself going out of range.

Hybrid vehicles have really come into their own in 2017 and we expect to see more advances and new models over the next 12 months. They represent one of the most exciting innovations in the automotive industry in recent history.

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