Learn What All The Fuss Is About With Hybrid Vehicles

The popularity of hybrid vehicles skyrocketed the past few years as more and more people are becoming truly concerned about the cost of fuel. Some hybrids may look cool, but there are some that look sort of odd, but regardless of how they are built, the one thing they all have in common is that they are great cars to own. They engines have the ability of using both electric and fuel to power your vehicle. And as a result of this, you get to save lots of money on gasoline each year and your vehicle will produce less pollution.

So it’s not only a great for your financially, but it’s great for the planet as well. Now even though it may take a while, the supply of oil left on the planet will dry up due to the demand we have for it. And eventually we will have to adopt alternative fuels or alternative methods to fuel our vehicles. Fortunately, scientists across the globe have been working on this for decades and in addition to the methods they have all created, the invention of the hybrid vehicle is by far one of the best.

As people read more about Hybrid vehicles, the sales of them continue to rise. Now you may be wondering about what exactly make a hybrid vehicle so great and how does it work? Well, basically being a hybrid, it uses more than one type of technology to power your engine. They utilize a electrical system is combination with a typical fuel system. As for the main components of the car, hybrids are built basically the same way conventional vehicles are built. The only difference between them is that the hybrid has an electrical motor and sometimes even a generator built into it that works together with the other engine to power your automobile.

This type of dual engine system allows your car to use electricity to run off of which means that you will need to spend a lot less money on gasoline. Now there are a few different type of hybrid systems. First there’s the parallel version. The parallel system, the electrical motor and the furl engine is connected the vehicle’s transmission. And this allows the vehicle to switch between the two depending on the situation. In most cases, the electrical motor will be used at low speeds and than fuel will be used once the car reaches a certain mph.

Than there’s the system that is gaining popularity which is called the series hybrid system. With this type of setup, fuel doesn’t power the car at all. Basically, there is a generator located inside the vehicle that is powered by the fuel engine. And than than generator powers the batteries that in turn powers the car itself. Now, there are even hybrid systems that uses stored kinetic energy to charge the batteries in the car whenever the driver uses their brakes. So now after knowing this you can easily see how owning a hybrid vehicle can easily save you lots of money every year.

Another good thing about these type of vehicles is that the engines are usually a lot smaller than those typically used in fuel based vehicles. Not only that but the engines are also designed to use a lot less gasoline as well. And as for the vehicle itself, it built using materials like plastic and types of aluminum that are much lighter than the materials normally used to build cars. And lastly, in regards to pollution, hybrid vehicles is great for the planet because the amount of pollution it emits is nothing compared to most cars on the road.

EV Basics II – An Electric Vehicle Primer

Important Acronyms:

BEV – Battery electric vehicle, a vehicle which uses only batteries and one or more motors to provide the force that makes it go.

EV – Electric vehicle, any vehicle that uses electric power to provide some or all of its propulsive force.

FCEV – Fuel cell electric vehicle, an electric vehicle which uses a hydrogen fuel cell as its source of electric power.

HEV – Hybrid electric vehicle, a car or truck that uses both an ICE and an electric motor.

ICE – Internal combustion engine, the powerplant of choice for the dirty, inefficient vehicles of the 20th Century.

PHEV – Plug-in hybrid vehicle, a hybrid vehicle with a battery pack that can be charged from a wall socket.

Have you just developed an interest in electric vehicles? Are you looking to learn some EV fundamentals? You’ve come to the right place! Read on, and you will start your education on the wonders of EVs. In this article, I will introduce readers to some of the various different types of EVs and explaing some of the advantages and issues associated with each type. Note that this article is only an introduction. I will go into more depth on different aspects of the subject matter in future installments of the “EV Basics” series.

There are several different power trains available which use electric motors. The simplest of these vehicles is the battery electric vehicle or BEV. This is a pure electric vehicle which uses only a battery pack and an electric motor to store energy and create the power necessary to make the car or truck move. BEVs have been around for a long time. In 1835, Thomas Davenport built a railway operated by a small electric motor. In the early years of the 20th Century, BEVs competed quite successfully with ICE-powered vehicles. It was not until Henry Ford started building the Model T that gasoline-powered cars that BEVs faded from public view.

In the 1960s, BEVs began to make a comeback. Interest in electric vehicles has grown steadily since then as concerns about pollution and dependence on foreign oil have permeated mainstream consciousness. Currently, BEVs are being designed and built in a wide variety of styles and layouts, from electric scooters, to low-speed electric cars such as those produced by Zenn Motor Company, to high-power freeway burners such as the two-seat Tesla Roadster or the family-friendly, five-passenger eBox by AC Propulsion.

BEVs must face a few hurdles if they are to replace ICE-only cars as our primary method of transportation. Historically, they have had limited driving range, significantly less than the range of a gasoline-powered car. Additionally, BEV have generally taken several hours to recharge the battery pack. In a world in which people have gotten used to instant gratification, this poses a real problem. The good news is that many people are working on these issues, and dramatic improvements are being made in both range and recharging time. Current EV designs have achieved ranges of more than 300 miles and charging times have been brought down to two hours or less in some models charged with high-powered “smart” chargers.

In the 1990s, Honda and Toyota introduced the American driving public to the hybrid electric vehicle or HEV. These vehicles use both an ICE and an electric motor. There are different types of HEVs which layout the engine and the motor in either a parallel or a series configuration. In a series configuration, the ICE acts only as an electrical generator. In a parallel configuration the ICE again acts as a generator, but it also drives the vehicle’s wheels just as the engine would do in an ICE-only vehicle.

HEVs provide significant benefits over ICE-only cars in two distinct areas. Firstly, the electric motor allows engineers to operate the ICE more efficiently because an HEV can rely heavily on the electric motor at points in which the ICE would be operating very inefficiently. Secondly, the battery pack in an HEV can be used to recapture the energy used while braking. To accomplish this, engineers create regenerative braking systems which used the electrical resistance of a generator to slow the car down long before they mechanical brakes come into play. The energy from the generator is then stored in the battery pack for future use. In a car without regenerative braking, all this energy is wasted by creating heat and wearing down the brake pads.

HEVs also have some problems. Unlike BEVs, they require some gasoline or other liquid fuel to operate. Also, they are more complicated then either a BEV or an ICE-only vehicle because they require both types of drivetrain components under one hood. However, they eliminate the range and recharging issues associated with BEVs, so HEVs can be viewed as a good transition step to the vehicles of the future.

Recently, much attention has been paid to plug-in hybrids or PHEVs. In essence, a PHEV is an HEV with a larger battery pack, a plug which allows the battery pack to be charged from a wall socket, and a control system which allows the vehicle to be operated in electric-only mode. The wall-charging feature allows a PHEV to get some of its power from the utility grid (or from a local power source such as a photovoltaic array or wind turbine) and some of its power from gasoline. Recently, several companies and individuals have been working on creating plug-in versions of the Toyota Prius. These conversions allow the Prius to run in all-electric mode until it reaches roughly 35mph. They give varying traveling ranges in all-electric mode, depending on which type of batteries are used and how many extra batteries are installed.

While these plug-in Priuses are a good start, PHEVs as a genre have even more potential. General Motors recently introduced the Chevrolet Volt E-Flex concept car, a PHEV which can travel up to 40 miles in electric only mode. It has a large electric motor and a one liter, three cylinder ICE. PHEVs of the future could follow this trend even further, maximizing the electric elements of the drivetrain while reducing the ICE to a tiny power plant which gets used only as a last resort.

In the last few years, fuel cell electric vehicles or FCEVs have grabbed many headlines. These are electric vehicles which use a hydrogen fuel cell to provide power, eliminating the need for a battery pack. Proponents point out that hydrogen is the most abundant of the chemical elements and that the only gas emitted from an FCEV is steam made from pure water. Detractors point out that nearly all hydrogen currently available is made from natural gas, a petroleum product. Hydrogen is also difficult to store in quantities sufficient to give FCEVs adequate range and it can present safety hazards when pressurized in tanks. Finally, FCEVs currently require complex, bulky support systems which take up excessive space and result in power delivery systems which are far less efficient than those present in BEVs.

Fuel cells have some potential to become part of the overall energy scenario in the future. However, many feel that FCEVs have been used primarily as a distraction and a stalling device. Companies and politicians keep telling us, “We’ll have FCEVs in the near future, but until then keep driving your Hummers!” These tactics keep people from demanding BEVs as soon as possible. As one saying puts it, “Practical, viable fuel cells are ten to twenty years away, and they always will be.”

One other type of electric vehicle is the human-assist hybrid. The most common example of this vehicle type is the electric bicycle. These are commonly-available, inexpensive, and they give people the health benefits associated with exercise while providing an additional boost when needed. Legally, they must be limited to 20 mph in electric assist mode, and the electric-only range of electric bikes now available is almost always less than twenty miles.

However, readers should ponder the fact that a small, aerodynamic vehicle can cruise at 65 mph on a flat road while using only five horsepower. Imagine the roads covered with small, efficient vehicles that use tiny electric motors and human power to achieve freeway speeds without putting a significant burden on the utility grid. While no major corporations are working on vehicles like this, small groups of dedicated individuals are working to make this type of vehicle available to the general public. These low-power vehicles could become the ultimate transportation solution for an energy-conscious society.

So there you have it! You now have enough information to join EV-related conversations at your next social gathering. You can talk about the different types of EVs, letting people know what is available now and what is coming in the near future. If you are still curious for more details on the benefits of electric vehicles and the advances which are being made in the field, please see the other articles in this “EV Basics” series.

Used Cars for Sale and Your Slimmed Down Budget

So you’ve decided to pare down your monthly expenses. You’ve gotten rid of the premium cable channels, installed automatic light switch dimmers, and resolved to cook at home. One expense whittler you should also consider is a pre-owned vehicle. Used cars for sale can be found in abundance, and one of them is just waiting to save you from self-inflicted haircuts.

First, monthly notes for new cars are higher than those for used cars. For sale in nearly every town and city, a previously owned car, with its corresponding monthly note, can be found to fit the automobile expense line in any budget. Additionally, most used car dealerships have their own finance department, thereby saving you the time and energy required to obtain financing elsewhere.

Opting for a pre-owned vehicle will also save you money on car insurance. Ironically, a vehicle that’s been around the block a few times is worth more to you, in terms of dollars saved, but less to the insurance company. Let the insurance company think what they will while you laugh all the way to the bank with all the money you’ll save on premiums and deductibles.

Further, when you see the words used cars for sale, your brain should immediately read this as cars for sale that cost less to repair. New technology is costly. The parts to fix broken new technology are expensive. The parts to repair used and older vehicles are usually readily available, versus parts for newer vehicles, which may have to be shipped from the manufacturer. This means a pre-owned vehicle will also save you time getting back on your feet, or wheels.

One thing not associated with used cars for sale is depreciation. And that’s a good thing for you and your balance sheet. Going hand in hand with the bottom line benefits of lower monthly notes and reduced insurance costs is the slowed depreciation of a pre-owned vehicle. On average, a new car loses about 20% of its value when it is driven off the lot, and it continues to depreciate while the monthly note and insurance expenses remain the same. A new car buyer is paying for value that isn’t there. Purchasing a used car means someone else takes the value hit, allowing a total stranger to contribute to your overall financial wellness and fat wallet.

They can’t balance your budget, but used cars can help drive your bottom line.

5 Electric Vehicles Worth Considering

The term “electric vehicle” is not used solely to describe those cars that run on electric power only. The industry now calls any car that has at least at electric option an EV, adjusting the terms accordingly.

Thus, a plugin hybrid is called a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle or PHEV; the Chevrolet Volt fits this category. A straight hybrid, such as the Toyota Prius, is an HEV while an FCEV is a fuel cell electric vehicle or what the Honda FCX Clarity is. Terms such as BEV represent battery electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf or Ford Focus Electric.

Regardless of how it is described, today’s car shopping consumer has several choices for consideration including the following five EVs worth your inspection:

1. Nissan Leaf — Nissan’s Leaf is priced about $36,000 and runs exclusively on electric power. Its range is about 70 miles, making this car perfect for the person who relies on a vehicle for a local commute. Its drawback is its limited range which means, like the Ford Focus EV, you’ll have to recharge before you can move on.

2. Chevrolet Volt — Is it an EV or is it a hybrid? Neither. The Chevy Volt is a PHEV and it has an electric-only range of 35 miles before a 1.4-liter gas engine kicks in. No emissions are emitted when this model operates in EV mode — the gas engine ensures that you can take long trips without having to recharge the electric motor. Base price is $39,995; you may do better buying the similar-sized Chevy Cruze for half the price.

3. Ford Focus Electric — The Ford Focus is already a popular car in its own right. The Focus BEV gives Ford its first major EV and is a good alternative to the Nissan Leaf. Its price point, however, is at $39,000, making this car one of the more expensive EVs on the market. Consider the gas version instead.

4. Mitsubishi i-MiEV — The “i” as it is commonly called is the lowest cost pure EV on the market. This vehicle retails for about $29,000 and with its federal tax credit in place can cost buyers less than $21,000, just a few thousand dollars more than a conventional gas-powered vehicle.

5. Toyota Prius — The Prius made this list should come as no surprise. The Prius is the best selling EV in the world and is now available in several body styles and includes a PHEV edition. The Prius has the broadest offerings of EVs available, giving shoppers much to consider when comparing new cars.

Most major manufacturers offer additional EV choices including Toyota with its Camry Hybrid, the Ford Fusion Hybrid, the Chevrolet Malibu with eAssist and others. You may be eligible for a $7,500 tax credit with some new models and find state incentives such as rebates available to you as well.