Hybrid vehiclesThe word hybrid means something that
is mixed together from two things. Usually it refers to plants
or animals that are bred from different genetically dissimilar
parents. An example would be a mule, which is a hybrid of a
horse and a donkey. A new type of vehicle that is on our roads
are hybrid cars.
One car is the Honda Insight, which can get up to 68
miles per gallon on the freeway. The car uses a small 1.0
liter, 3-cylinder engine with an ultra-thin electric motor.
Its primary power comes from the gasoline engine, but it
uses the electric motor when it is accelerating or climbing
hills. The electric motor does not need an external power
supply for recharging. Its batteries are recharged by
regenerative braking. This means that energy from forward
momentum is captured during braking. This energy is then used
to recharge the batteries.
Honda is also making its Civic sedan available as a
hybrid that gets 51 mpg on the highway compared to the
gasoline-only model that gets 39 mpg on the highway.
Another hybrid on the road is the Toyota
Prius. This four-person car gets 52 mpg.
It uses advanced technology to combine a small gas engine
with an electric motor. At very slow speeds, the car runs on
its electric motor. Driving around the city and at higher and
freeway speeds, it shifts to both the gasoline motor and the
electric motor, while also recharging the battery.
Other automobile companies will be releasing other types of
hybrid vehicles soon. In 2003 model year, Ford will begin
selling a hybrid-electric Escape Sport Utility Vehicle.
This vehicle will use an electric motor around town and a
gasoline engine while on the freeway. The vehicle's gas engine
will shut off when it is stopped, like in a traffic jam.
The regular gasoline-powered
Escape gets 23 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the
highway. The Hybrid Escape will get 40 mpg, but that
better mileage may cost $3,000 above the gasoline model's
$18,000 price tag. Incentives from government agencies may
help decrease that extra cost.
Other auto companies are also working on hybrid SUVs.
DaimlerChrysler is working on a hybrid Dodge Durango
that will achieve a combined average of 18.6 mpg. The regular
gasoline model gets only 15.5 mpg.
General Motors and Toyota are working together to develop a
small hybrid SUV. Honda is planning a hybrid version of its
CR-V, which could be released in late 2003.
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