Hybrid Vehicles Part 1

Ron Moore gives you an in-depth look into the hybrid cars and how they operate.



Series Links: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

The dictionary defines a hybrid as something of mixed origin or composition. A plant can be a hybrid; a word might be one too.

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The Honda Insight is a two-passenger/two-door coupe.

A hybrid vehicle is one that combines a smaller-than-normal internal combustion gasoline engine with the electric motor of an electric-powered vehicle. The electric motor is energized by a newly designed high-voltage battery pack. The gasoline engine and the electric motor work separately or together to provide power to the drive wheels of the vehicle. Hybrid vehicles are environmentally friendly, as they emit very few pollutants. Of the two models available in the U.S., one is rated in California as an ultra low emissions vehicle (ULEV), while the other emits so few pollutants that it is certified as a super ultra low emissions vehicle. A Super ULEV vehicle is approximately 90% cleaner in exhaust emissions than the average conventional automobile on the road. In addition, both vehicles boast more than 50 miles per gallon in city driving.

Who manufactures and sells Hybrid gasoline/electric vehicles in the U.S?

Honda Motors and Toyota Motor Corp. currently are selling 2001 model year hybrid vehicles.

The Honda Insight was the first gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle to be sold in the U.S. The Insight is a two-door/two passenger coupe with a hatchback. Honda has sold more than 5,000 Insights since their introduction in the U.S.

Toyota Motors sells the Prius (pronounced pree-us), a four-door/five-passenger vehicle. Toyota will sell approximately 10,000 of its hybrid vehicles in the U.S. each year.

What new gasoline/electric hybrid vehicles will be available within the next few years?

Toyota is already offering a small hybrid minivan in Japan called the Estima. It is equipped with a 2.4-liter engine, versus the 1.5-liter engine currently in the Prius sedan. Toyota may also offer a larger-size hybrid, perhaps a sport-utility vehicle (SUV), in the U.S. in the near future.

In April 1999, Toyota and GM formed an alliance for joint research and development of advanced technology related to electric vehicles (EVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) for the 21st century. Toyota will continue to develop and improve on hybrid technology. At this time there are no immediate plans to introduce the hybrid system in any other Toyota vehicle. However, based on market acceptance of the technology, the hybrid system technology could be transferred to other body styles. Toyota displayed a hybrid 4x4 van concept vehicle at the Tokyo Auto Show in fall 1999.

A Dodge Durango hybrid SUV is scheduled for sale as a 2002 model year vehicle. Early information about this SUV reveals that its gasoline engine will power the rear wheels, while the electric motor onboard will power just the front wheels.

Daimler-Chrysler announced it will be producing a Dodge ESX3 that seats five people and uses a diesel engine and an electric motor. Ford has announced plans to produce a hybrid Explorer SUV.

How is the Toyota hybrid vehicle different from Honda