Over the last few decades, the world has been experiencing an international crisis of non-renewable energy resources. Centuries of improvident use of natural fuels have resulted in this paucity. Under such circumstances, the responsibility of trying to conserve natural energy resources should be shouldered by each and every member of the global community. By making certain judicious choices, and effecting a few changes in your lifestyle, you can contribute to mankind’s wider quest to prevent early depletion of the energy resources; energy resources that are indispensable for man’s continued existence on planet Earth.
One such choice that you could make is to drive a hybrid vehicle. What is a hybrid vehicle? Well, it is a vehicle that uses more than one source of energy in order to be driven. One kind of hybrid vehicle is the HEV, or the Hybrid Electronic Vehicle which is powered by not only chemical energy (through an internal combustion engine) but also by electrical energy (through an electric motor). Fuel provides the energy for speed and range of a vehicle.
However, a lot of this energy is wasted, and dissipated into the atmosphere as heat energy. The electric motor prevents this dissipation of excess energy, and converts it into electrical energy. This electrical energy, in turn, provides supplementary power to the vehicle, thus eliminating the necessity of excessive fuel usage. Thus an HEV offers you optimum use of electrical and chemical energy, each compensating for the deficiency of the other. Let’s take a quick look at the advantages offered by the HEV:
o Regenerative Brakes
In a vehicle run by the conventional chemical fuel engine, a battery uses the chemical energy of fuel to generate mechanical energy, translating it into the motion of the car. When the brakes are pressed, much of this kinetic energy is bled off as heat energy into the surrounding atmosphere. Not only is this harmful for the environment, it also amounts to gross wastage of fuel. In a hybrid car, on the other hand, the kinetic energy otherwise wasted (during acceleration and deceleration) is transformed into electrical energy and stocked up by the electric battery for later use. This makes the hybrid car thermodynamically efficient and environment-friendly.
o Electric Motor Drive:
Usually your car needs more energy when it has to surmount barriers, or move against gravity up a slope. In this case, you press the accelerator harder so that more fuel is utilized to generate the extra kinetic energy required. The only way in which vehicle manufacturers can create an engine which can accommodate more fuel is by making it more large and bulky. But in a hybrid car, the heat produced by your car charges your electric battery instead of being dissipated into the atmosphere.
This electric charge in turn provides the excess energy required by the engine when your car has to surmount boulders, run on rocky roads, or up a steep gradient. So the car can run efficiently on smaller engines. Moreover, your car can save up on fuel, as the energy deficit is compensated by using electric energy rather than using extra fuel. Some hybrid vehicles are run completely on electrical energy, provided they are being driven at comparatively low speeds.
o Automatic Start and Shut off
When you wait for the traffic signal to change, you almost never turn off the ignition. Even in large vehicles like public buses, the motorist almost never shuts down the engine when stuck in, say a traffic jam. As your vehicle heedlessly belches fumes into the air, do you ever stop to consider the sheer wastage of non-renewable fuel resources it is causing? In a hybrid car, the electric engine is programmed to automatically start up and shut down, when the engine is idling. So you no longer have to manually turn off and turn on the ignition. The engine in a hybrid vehicle eliminates human reaction time and effects a smooth and easy transition between stopping and starting a vehicle.
In the initial stages of driving a hybrid vehicle, you may find it difficult to relinquish control to the computer that takes a lot of decisions about speed, acceleration and ignition, which you would otherwise have taken yourself, while driving. For example, if it anticipates that the car needs more power, the computer immediately activates the electric motor to provide the supplementary power required by your car, so as to preserve fuel.
So if you aren’t a control freak, if you hate the way fuels emitted from vehicles are choking your system, and care about conserving fast-depleting energy resources, a hybrid car should be your next big purchase. Considering the steeply rising fuel prices, this car will also act as a measure of economy for your family. Sooner or later, hybrid cars will have to step in to compensate for the dwindling fuel resources worldwide. So why not effect a positive change sooner rather than later? Why invite a crisis when you have access to alternatives? Step into an HEV. Drive into the future.