At first glance, plug-in hybrid vehicles look a lot like their cousins that run on standard gasoline. What sets them apart, however, is the engine beneath their hood. Hybrid vehicles run on a combination of electricity (battery power) and standard gasoline. They are known for their efficiency and fuel economy. Most are designed in the form of passenger vehicles, but they are also produced in the form of trucks, commercial vehicles, vans, and even military vehicles. Hybrid vehicles have been available to the public since 2010. They are produced both in the US and overseas, especially in China. Currently, there are about 20 plug-in style hybrid cars available on the US market. Worldwide, there are more than 40 kinds of hybrid cars. Hybrids are produced by major automakers such as Toyota, MINI Cooper, Chevrolet, Hyundai, and Chrysler. If you’ve been considering getting a hybrid vehicle or you’re simply curious to know how they work, here’s some information about how they work and which vehicles you might find for sale near you.
Although they seem like a modern invention (and modern craze), the concept for electric cars was actually developed in 1899 by Porsche. Today’s hybrid vehicle (or a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle “PHEV”) is a semi-electric vehicle that uses a rechargeable battery for at least a portion of its energy. Many hybrids also have an engine and an on-board generator to use as a source of backup power in case their electricity runs out in between charging stations. Hybrids have a similar mechanical composition to standard vehicles in the sense that they operate on an engine and produce emissions through a tailpipe. But because they run partially on electricity, hybrids generally have a lower emissions volume than cars that run on standard gasoline. This feature gives them an environmentally-friendly image and makes them popular among people who are searching for a more eco-conscious vehicle.
While today’s plug-in hybrid cars are driven primarily by people who want to reduce their carbon footprint, interest in hybrids was initially sparked overseas in 2003 and 2004, when the cost of gasoline surged in Europe. Rising gas prices made their way over to the United States too, which made people opt for smaller, more fuel-efficient cars. Automakers saw tremendous opportunity to introduce the public to quasi-electric vehicles. The introduction of electric vehicles proved to be quite popular, as Americans realized how much money they could save if they weren’t dependent entirely on gasoline. In Europe, the first electric car was produced by Renault. This car, called the Kangaroo, had an engine and efficient battery that, when plugged in to PHEV chargers, could be recharged to 95% of its capacity within hours. This first electric car was most popular in France, Norway, and the UK. The Kangaroo was revamped and rebranded in 2007.
Following the success of Renault’s electric vehicle, other automakers followed suit and started to produce their own semi-electric cars. Toyota, GM, and Ford were some of the major automakers to produce their own electric cars. In 2007, Ford alone created a fleet of 20 PHEV vehicles, which is distributed to the electric company Southern California Edison. In 2008, Ford created an SUV to join its fleet of hybrid cars. Several years later, in 2009, Ford was making hybrid versions of some of its best-selling cars, including the Escape, which is a mid-size SUV. In 2008, Toyota jumped on the hybrid bandwagon and started production of its own electric and gasoline-powered cars. In addition to making its passenger vehicles electric, Toyota also extended sales of its electric vehicles to the commercial market, where it outfitted a number of its commercial vans with electric motors.
Despite the fact that they’re produced by different automakers, hybrids recharge in the same basic manner. They have a battery charger, which is either located in the car or on the outside, that plugs into an electric charging station. Since electric cars are becoming more popular, PHEV charging stations are becoming more prevalent, too. You might see them at your local grocery store, convenience store, or in larger towns and cities. Most hybrid cars are designed to last anywhere between 20 and 100 miles between charges. To get them where they need to go in between stops, they have the ability to switch to a gasoline engine.
As demand for hybrid vehicles continues to grow, more and more are coming to the mainstream market. Currently, one of the best-selling hybrid vehicles in the US is the Chevy Volt. The Chevy Volt, which is a compact five-passenger sedan, has actually been the top hybrid market in the nation for several years. One of the most famous hybrids is the Toyota Prius, which comes in several trim levels. As for minivans, a standout is the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. MINI Cooper, Hyundai, Volvo and Cadillac also make popular hybrid cars.
With the ability to lower emissions and save money on fuel, hybrid vehicles are an increasingly popular option for consumers around the world. To keep up with demand, automakers are continuing to make innovative vehicles and improve electric-vehicle technology. So far, this technology has been well-received by the public, and enthusiasm for it shows no signs of slowing down.
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