In simple terms, a vehicle that uses a combination of two different power sources to power itself is called a hybrid vehicle. Hybrid technology includes diesel-electric, nuclear-electric or gasoline-electric. A hybrid car, in present terms, means any car that has a combination of an electric motor and a gasoline (or diesel) internal-combustion engine (ICE). The main components of hybrid cars are the internal-combustion engine, an electric motor, a generator (mostly on series hybrids), fuel storage container, batteries and a transmission.
There are two kinds of engines found in hybrid cars. The first is a
parallel hybrid. Both the gas engine and electric motor can be used to power
the vehicle and turn the transmission. The electric motor is used to boost the
power whenever required to increase the speed of the vehicle. Parallel hybrid
cars are good for highway driving.
One particularly interesting combination of hybrid technology uses a diesel engine for power. Diesels are known for getting extra mileage from every gallon of fuel, and are excellent at delivering constant power for long periods of time, suffering less wear while delivering higher efficiency. However, the engines also suffer from poor acceleration due to having a limited RPM range.
In the more common parallel hybrid design, an electric motor running off batteries power the car once it's up to speed. The internal-combustion engine keeps the batteries charged and assists when more power is needed. Hybrid technology has also brought us regenerative braking which transfers energy from the electric motor to the battery when the brakes are applied, thus no extra effort is required to charge the batteries separately.
The second variant of a hybrid car is known as a series hybrid. In a series hybrid, the gas or diesel powered engine does not actually run the car itself. It powers a generator, which in turn powers the batteries and electric motor that connects to the transmission to move the car. The electric motor remains on all the time and the gas engine can be put on and off when desired. The series hybrid automobiles provide better gas mileage in the city.
The benefits of hybrid cars include the fact a hybrid car will save you money on gasoline and prove to be a boon to our environment by reducing environmental pollution. It will also help conserve our natural resources. Among the shortcomings of hybrid technology is its cost which is preventing more people from purchasing hybrid cars. As hybrid technology continues to mature and demand increases, the production cost will come down with a subsequent increase in production of more affordable hybrid cars.