Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hybrid Cars And Hybrid Trucks

 The fuels that power most cars and trucks, and indeed motorcycles and aeroplanes, is one of the most volatile commodities on the market. Oil and petrol are not just getting more expensive, but the crises in the Middle East threaten to disrupt supplies as well.

This state of affairs is very disturbing for some people and governments alike. As the price of oil rises, citizens complain and blame the government and the rising price of oil affects the cost of living and the balance of payments.
 On top of that, environmental groups are unanimous in blaming the consumption of fossil fuels, which includes oil, for most of the degradation of the environment and the consequent disappearance of species. A possible solution to all these problems is the development of a different form of engine that does not burn so much oil. Enter the hybrid engine.

All the top car manufacturers are busy making energy-efficient hybrid cars. Ford, Honda and Toyota are at the vanguard of producing stylish cars that incorporate hybrid engines which run off petrol and electricity. In fact the car in essence has two engines which share the mechanism for delivering the power to the wheels.
 These cars use petrol whilst the batteries require charging or when the car needs extra power, say for overtaking or going up hill, but they automatically switch the petrol engine off and the electric engine on when electricity can provide enough power to achieve what you require the car to do, like cruising in city traffic or normal, unhurried driving. The batteries are charged by the petrol engine, by braking and by plugging it into the national grid.
 Trucks obviously use a great deal more gasoline than cars and so the possibility for saving is a lot higher to. The problem is that the electric motors are not actually powerful enough to be able to entirely take over from a petrol engine if a great deal of power is needed to drive a fully laden truck.

It can 'assist' - that is reduce the load on the petrol engine, thus saving some of the costs, but can it save enough fuel to justify it's relatively high cost? That is the big question for all truck owners. However, the technology is being improved quickly and it probably will do one day.
Again the big three are doing everything they can to compete in this potentially extremely profitable market. If they could create hybrid engines that are powerful enough to pull a fully loaded truck at a good speed, manufacturers are convinced that truck owners will go for them in order to save on their ruinous fuel bills.

This along with decreasing the cost of hybrid cars is the key to decreasing a country's dependence on imported oil. If you are not very worried about the high price of buying a hybrid car, then you should get one only to do your bit for the environment, but if you want to buy one to save on your fuel bills, you will have to get the calculator out and do your sums carefully.

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