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Hybrid Vehicles

Essay by   •  November 16, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  2,611 Words (11 Pages)  •  1,223 Views

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Hybrid Cars

The idea of the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) has been around for longer than a decade, as many people may not have originally thought. In fact, hybrid vehicles have been in development for the past century. The combination of an electric motor and a gasoline engine has been stirring in the minds of scientists and inventors alike for many years. Hybrid cars have surpassed many feats as it's progressed through the years, such as increased gas mileage and reducing the pollutants that regular internal combustion engines expel. While the hybrid car is in high demand at the present time, some people believe these cars are just a quick resolution before bigger and better ideas, such as fuel cell vehicles, begin taking over the automobile industry. Still, the development of the hybrid car has had many effects on today's society and may continue to in the future.

A key element in how the hybrid operates is the electric motor. First produced solely for the use of electric vehicles, later went on to be one of the main components of a hybrid vehicle. The electric vehicle started out by the invention of the storage battery in 1859. This later led to what is believed to be the first electric vehicle produced, a three wheel carriage made by Magnus Volk of England in 1888. The first of the electric vehicles were mainly used by royal patrons. Another major advancement from England was an electric car with a 40 cell battery and 3 horse power electric motor designed by Walter Bersey. This car was designed for the London Electric Cab Company in 1897. In the same year the Pope Manufacturing Company built about 500 electric cars within a two year period, which marked one of the first mass productions of electric cars in automobile history (History). America eventually adopted the electric cab idea and introduced electric taxicabs in the late 1890s (Motavalli 10). The Pope Manufacturing Company eventually merged with 2 smaller electric car companies to start a company called the Electric Vehicle Company (EVC) in 1899. They became the first large scale operation in the American automobile industry with total assets reaching 200 million dollars. "In the year 1900, American car companies made 1,681 steam, 1,575 electric, and 936 gasoline cars. In a poll conducted at the first National Automobile Show in New York City, patrons favored electric as their first choice, followed closely by steam" (History). The next 5 years were a great success for the EVC with cab and car rental companies from New York to Chicago. However, in 1904 Henry Ford introduced a low-priced, light weight, gas powered vehicle with less noise, vibrations, and odor of previous gas powered vehicles which caused the EVC to eventually fail (History).

The second component of a hybrid car is the internal combustion engine, also known as the gasoline engine. Gasoline cars have been around for years longer than electric cars. They range back as far as the early 1800s but did not become very practical until the 1880s when Gottlieb Daimler inventor the worlds first four wheel motor vehicle. The next year Karl Benz received the first patent for a gas-fueled car (Motavalli 22). When the 20th century finally came around gas powered vehicles were increasing at a very fast rate by the likes of people such as Henry Ford, Charles and Frank Dureya, and Ransome Eli Olds (24). By 1911 the invention of the Self Starter almost completely wiped out the sale of steam and electric vehicles. The Self Starter made it extremely easy for all drivers to start a gas engine instead of having to crank start the engine (History). So began the dominance of gasoline vehicles in the automobile industry. The only problem was gasoline cars were very inefficient and released many pollutants into the air. "A power source, like the gasoline engine, that dissipates 80 percent of its energy before it ever reaches the rear axle is too wasteful in the modern era and must be replaced by something more efficient and less polluting" (Motavalli XI).

So in turn, the invention of hybrid cars was introduced. Hybrid cars date back a century ago to 1905. An American engineer by the name of H. Piper filed for a patent for a hybrid vehicle which used an electric motor to assist an internal combustion engine and could peak at 25 mph in 10 seconds instead of the usual 30 seconds. By the time his patent was issued, 3 years later gasoline engines could produce this kind of performance on their own at a much cheaper price. A few other companies had their try at hybrid cars as well, such as Commercial which constructed a hybrid truck that was built in Philadelphia until 1918. Still, with the advancement of gasoline engines, a few hybrid vehicles were produced and can be found in museums throughout America today. A dormant period arose from 1920 to 1965. Hybrids and electrics were then mainly the experimentations from small time entrepreneurs and backyard car enthusiasts (History).

When the 1970s rolled around and the oil crisis struck, gas prices rose tremendously and people were very concerned about the dependency for oil and the idea of hybrid cars once again came up. The main financial support came from the U.S. Department of Energy, with a few automobile companies also investing some money. By the early 1990s Volkswagen was the only automaker that considered marketing a hybrid vehicle, only in Europe though. 1993 sparked a major event for the advancement of hybrid cars. The Department of Energy signed a five-year $138 million development agreement with General Motors and a $122 million agreement with Ford to design and build preproduction hybrid prototypes that could be marketed in less than 10 years. Four years later brought about a new generation of hybrid vehicles with the introduction of the Toyota Prius (Sperling 101).

Today's hybrids come in many different varieties such as mild or full and series or parallel. Mild hybrids require the use of an electric motor to assist the gas engine when extra power is needed. It can only move from the stopped position if the internal combustion engine is engaged. The mild hybrid can be broken down into 3 sub-systems. The Start/Stop system, which is also called a micro hybrid, will shut off the engine when the car would normally be idling and instantly restart the engine when pressure is applied to the accelerator. This type of system only increases fuel efficiency by approximately 10 percent and is the most basic of all hybrid vehicles. A few GM trucks use the start/stop feature. Some people question whether the micro hybrid should actually be considered a hybrid at all. A little bit more advanced system is the Integrated Started Alternator with Damping (ISAD). This has the same function of a Start/Stop System but it also allows the electric motors to assist in moving

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