“If it ain't broke, don't fix it!"

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hybrids: What Are They Exactly?

Last night a friend and I were watchin’ this documentary about “green” cars, prior to that we were at the post office to pick up the catalytic converter that he ordered. And so began our discussion about “green” cars and “cats”. He (being a fan of old school cars) does not have any idea what these supposedly eco-friendly cars are. He asked me if these cars have catalytic converters. Well, I am not an expert on “green” cars ‘coz I haven’t had the chance to check one out yet but that much I know. I said hybrids do. And so he asked again, “what are hybrids?” I told him that these are still petrol-powered vehicles, however the least amount of petrol is used because the car battery assists the engine to make the car run. So basically, both petrol and electricity are making the car move, unlike before when petrol was the sole generator of power. That is why it is called a hybrid in the first place. So it got me thinking, all over the US people are questioning the feasibility of these cars in the years to come. A lot are commenting that they are here to stay because they are far more environment-friendly than most cars in production today. But, surprisingly, not that many people know about “green” cars and the entire working/s behind it, hence this blog post.

I was searching online for information about hybrids, but all I could find where data that were too technical for most people. There was this Frequently Asked Questions thing online about the Honda Civic Hybrid and I decided it would be a great example. The Honda Civic is one of the most lauded hybrids to ever come out this year, and here are a few information about the car.

What is a hybrid vehicle?
A hybrid car combines a petrol-powered engine with an electric motor to provide substantially better fuel economy with substantially lower emissions. Specifically, the Civic Hybrid utilizes Honda's Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) technology, which uses a 1.3-liter VTEC engine for primary power, with an ultra-thin electric motor providing additional power and torque.

Do I need to plug the Civic Hybrid in?
Never. The Civic Hybrid battery pack is recharged automatically when decelerating through regenerative braking, as well as when cruising. The driver never needs to worry about recharging the battery; the Civic Hybrid does this by itself in the usual course of driving.

What Petrol do I use in the Civic Hybrid?
The Civic Hybrid runs on the cheaper 91 octane unleaded.

What fuel economy can I expect from the Civic Hybrid?
The Civic Hybrid should achieve an average of approximately 18km/ltr on highway driving and 15km/ltr around town, but like any car it depends how you drive it. Better figures than this can be achieved, e.g. In the 2002 EnergyWise Rally the Civic Hybrid achieved an average fuel economy of 21.46km/ltr (4.66 litres per 100kms or 60.6 mpg).

How does the Civic Hybrid perform and handle compared to conventional vehicles?
The Civic Hybrid feels and drives like a normal automatic non-hybrid Civic with the exception that when stopped, the petrol engine cuts out automatically.

Can the Civic Hybrid run on electricity when it runs out of petrol?
No, the Civic Hybrid always drives using the petrol engine with the electric motor only assisting. Like any other car, drivers should be sure to keep petrol in the tank of their Civic Hybrid at all times.

How long does the battery last in the Civic Hybrid?
To quote from the Honda website: "The battery pack is designed to last 10 years under normal driving conditions."

If you want to read the entire write-up, you can just click here.

Source: The Clean Green Car Company