How Hybrid Cars Work?

Hybrid cars work by seamlessly integrating a gas engine, an electric motor and a high-powered battery. The battery provides power for the electric motor and is recharged by recapturing energy that would normally be lost when decelerating or coasting. This recapturing of energy is called regenerative braking. If needed, power from the gas engine can be diverted to recharge the battery as well. Because of these charging strategies, hybrid cars never need to be plugged in. To understand how the gas engine, electric motor and battery work together, it is best to divide hybrids into two categories: mild hybrids and full hybrids. Each has its own approach to incorporating the three components.

Mild Hybrids - Electric Motor as Assist

In mild hybrids, the gas engine provides the main propulsion, and the electric motor provides assist whenever extra power is needed.

In this arrangement, the electric motor can not operate independently of the gas engine. The electric motor can generate electricity for the battery or consume electricity from the battery, but not both at the same time. Currently, Honda employs this technology in its Civic and Insight.

Full Hybrids - Gas Engine and Electric Motor Can Operate Independently

Full hybrids integrate the electric motor, gas engine and battery so that the electric motor can operate on its own when light acceleration is needed at lower speeds. Once the vehicle reaches higher speeds, the gasoline engine starts up and takes over. Under hard acceleration, both the gas engine and the electric motor can work together to provide the needed power. Unlike mild hybrids, full hybrids are able to generate and consume electricity at the same time. The Toyota Prius and Ford Escape employ this type arrangement.

Gasoline or Diesel Engines Plus Battery and Electric Motor Hybrids have both gasoline and electric motors, as well as a battery. The conventional combustion engine (gasoline or diesel) is smaller than that used in conventional cars, because it only needs to accommodate the average load, rather than the peak load. Here's how it works:


The electric motor handles normal stop-and-go travel and initial highway acceleration. The electric motor also assists the gas or diesel engine to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. For example, it is the electric motor that drives energy-wasting accessories like the power steering pump and air conditioner. THE HYBRID'S GASOLINE MOTOR

The gasoline- or diesel-powered internal combustion engine kicks in whenever the vehicle gets to higher speeds. Hybrids have a sophisticated computer control system that decides when to switch from one power source to the other.