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Ever wondered how hybrid cars work exactly? Find out how these environmentally friendly vehicles operate now.

Hybrids are vehicles that reduce carbon monoxide emissions and present an alternative to conventional cars.  Instead of relying on the traditional fuel internal combustion engine, hybrids use both fuel engines and electric motors.

There are three different ways that hybrids work. You can either have a series hybrid, parallel hybrid or combination.

Series Hybrid Cars

Series hybrids use the combination engine of fuel and electricity to power the car. The petrol engine turns a generator and can either charge the batteries or power the electric motor that drives the car. The fuel engine doesn’t directly power the car as it always goes through the electric motor. The electric motor is the only way of providing power to the hybrid car.  The engine is smaller in a series drive train to meet average driving power demands.  The series hybrid vehicle performs well as a stop and go car, making it great for urban driving.

Parallel Hybrid Cars

Parallel hybrid vehicles work by ensuring that the fuel is doing two things at the same time. The fuel powers the engine whilst also travelling to the batteries that supply power to the electric motors. Both engine and electric motor are working together to turn the transmissions which then turns the wheels. Ultimately the wheels can be directly powered by the car and it can be powered by an electric battery.  Batteries for parallel hybrid cars are slightly more powerful than series hybrid cars.

Series/Parallel Hybrids

Thanks to new technology there is a hybrid of the hybrid! A car powered by using both series and parallel power. The series –parallel hybrid combines the two designs so the transmission can be connected to the engine or separated for maximising fuel consumption. Using the electric motor to power the hybrid vehicle during low speeds and low loads and have the option to use fuel when you want to increase the speed and load.

Hybrids have a very sophisticated electric motor with advance technology allowing it to act as a motor as well as a generator, becoming a renewable energy source for the vehicle.  The generator also has the power to slow the car down and return energy to the batteries.

Hybrids use less fuel resulting in a cleaner, more energy efficient car. The parallel hybrid car creates energy when it breaks; this energy is converted to recharge the battery and excess energy is stored for later.  The battery powers the electric motor and boosts the performance of the petrol engine.

Hybrid cars can be classed as either mild or strong to show the degree of the battery power incorporated in the design. Strong hybrids for example use more of the electricity power than petrol power. Hybrids can determine when to switch between both sources of power.

By Kelly