I have always wondered what Hybrid cars were all about. Especially because over the past couple of years gas prices have been at record highs. I knew that there were such things as electric cars but until this last year or so I have only seen the wealthy be able to afford to drive them. And from what I had heard about Hybrid cars was that they were over priced, small, and not so attractive cars. No wonder nobody owns them. Now I am starting to see them more often and they aren’t as bad as everyone had said. For this exploratory essay I first wanted to figure out what a hybrid car was and how it compared to regular cars.
I wanted to find out everything that there is to know about them. I wanted to research the hybrid as if I wanted to buy it, which I do. First off in my search I wanted to figure out what exactly a hybrid car was and how it worked. There are two configurations for hybrid cars. The first configuration uses a gasoline engine to run a generator. The generator supplies electricity to the motor, which drives the wheels, which allows the gasoline engine to run constantly while achieving optimum fuel efficiency. This then minimizes emissions owing to incomplete combustion.
A hybrid car with parallel configuration uses both an engine and a motor to drive the wheels depending on driving conditions (1). Hybrid cars use both gas and electric. The gasoline engine is the primary source of power, while the electric motor is used at low speeds. Emissions levels are reduced because the gasoline engine shuts off at low speeds. An additional benefit of the parallel configuration is that no outside source of electric power is required because the engine itself generates the required electricity(How Stuff).
As I was searching on the internet; I also had in mind to find out if everything I had been told about hybrid cars was true. Things like they are expensive to repair, you have to replace the battery all the time, or that they aren’t very safe. In my search I came across an article by Don Hamonds, a writer for the post-gazette, which helped clear some things up. As for high repair costs, technical problems, and the lack of technicians to serve the vehicles that is to be expected but as the popularity grows so will the convenience of owning a hybrid car.
The automotive career development center trains about 3,000 people each year to work on hybrid cars. They have also written hybrid service manuals for independent mechanics that may be confused about the new technology and thus may advise potential buyers against buying one. This will soon make it easier and cheaper to get your car repaired (1). As for the battery being replaced all the time I found out that wasn’t true either. Van Batenburg and Hybridcars. com had said that the battery packs that are used in hybrid systems do not use the material called nickel metal hydrates which are found in cell phones and video recorders.
Battery packs in hybrid cars are prevented from overheating by the use of cooling fans and sensors that are inside the battery packs themselves. There is a computer involved whose sole job is to take good care of the battery. A Toyota spokesman said that the Prius battery is designed to last 180,000 miles with no deterioration. And all the cars have a warranty in case something was to happen( Hammond 2). Once I found out how the battery worked I was concerned if it’s disposal would pose an environmental problem. If ti was a problem we were then back to square one.
Because my big interest in the hybrid is how it can help our environment. I started looking through the research I had and on different website’s to see if I could find my answer. I had a hard time finding it but I stumbled across a web site that had frequently asked questions about hybrid cars and that was one of them. I found out that hybrid battery packs are designed to last for the lifetime of the car, somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 miles and probably aa whole lot longer. Hybrids use NiMH batteries, not the environmentally problematic rechargeable nickel cadmium.
Nickel Metal Hydride batteries are benign. They can be fully recycled, says Ron Cogan, editor of the green car journal. Toyota and Honda say that they will recycle dead batteries and that disposal will pose no toxic hazards. Plus Toyota puts a phone number on each battery, and they will pay a $200 dollar bounty for each battery to help ensure that it is properly recycled(Hybrid). I was really relives to find this out. As for hybrids not being very safe I didn’t find a lot of information about how they possibly couldn’t be safer than any other car. But I did find an article on CNN. com.
The article talked about how the hybrid vehicle poses a danger for rescuers at accident scenes. I was very surprised to read this article. In it they talked about how emergency crews are a scrambling to learn more about how to avoid catastrophes that could be caused by hybrids high voltage systems. This was something I never thought about. A hybrid car runs on gas and an electric motor that carries as much a 500 volts, this worries medical technicians and others who have to cut into cars to rescue the people inside. Because if you can’t shut it down you don’t know where the high voltage is( Rescuers 1).
In efforts to help the medical technicians the car companies have colored the high powered cables bright orange to catch the eye of the rescue worker or the mechanic. Chris Peterson a service training instructor for Toyota said that the prius electric system should shut down if anything goes wrong. There shouldn’t be high voltage in those cables, but you never know( 2). This was a topic that kinda scared me. Not only is the driver not safe in the car, if the electrical system shuts down, but the rescuers are putting themselves in danger.
I guess the car company’s are putting their best efforts forward, but only time and experience will help everyone get past this obstacle. Next I wanted to see how the hybrid car compares to a regular car. I know so far that it gets better gas milage that a regular car dose, but how much better and what else dose it have to offer. I found a very interesting article that was about a guy and girl that worked for the sierra club that went on a road trip to compare a Toyota Prius and a GMC Yukon.
They went on a 700 mile trip and compared them to each other. The Prius got 45. 5mpg and the Yukon got 16. 3mpg, which is a huge difference. On the total trip the Yukon used 43. 01 gallons costing $60. 24. Whereas the Prius only used 16. 3 gallons and it only cost $22. 84. To me that is worth buying the Prius. But the most amazing thing was the prius only produced 308 pounds of Co2 in the air but the Yukon produced about 820 pounds. After reading this I was shocked at how much Co2 was put into the air( Hattam 1-4 ).