Hybrid Cars Explained

BMW Active Hybrid

One thing that I have picked up on recently is the growing number of car manufacturers who have been unveiling hybrid models.  Gone are the days were the Toyota Prius was flying solo as the mainstream hybrid of choice nowadays all of the big guns have hybrid models within their ranges.  Still, very few people know much about hybrid technology often mistaking them for electric vehicles.

The basic premise behind the hybrid technology is that instead of being powered solely by gasoline they use a combination of a gas engine and electric motors.  This, of course, burns less fuel and is less harmful to the environment.   The built-in computer system on a hybrid makes the decisions about which energy source to use at different times, based on maximizing efficiency while providing the same level of safety and comfort as conventional cars.

As the car stores energy generated when you apply the brakes and reroute this back into the rechargeable batteries you don’t actually have to plug-in the car to recharge the electric motor.  Those green charging stations you have no doubt seen at car parks and in city centres are for electric cars only…and we will leave the story of those for another day.

Although they can often be slightly more expensive at the offset against the price of a traditional fuel only vehicle the savings are returned to you over the lifetime of the vehicle through the need for fewer visits to the petrol station.  With time come new Hybrid models that sit very competitively alongside their sister models, view the BMW ActiveHybrid range for example which is available now in the 3, 5 and 7 series models.

What about the downsides?  Well, of course, there are some problems with the current technology.  The batteries used can take up space normally set aside for storage.  Although they rely on less oil, the batteries are often powered by lithium and cobalt, 2 materials that require a destructive process to mine, causing a whole other environmental impact of their own.  Even when the switch to fully electric comes in another 15/20 years the demand on the national grid will be huge which is most countries of the world is still powered by mainly fossil fuels.


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