Hybrid Vehicles Tutorial

New Hybrid Vehicles Increase Gas-saving Options for Consumers

Hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) combine the benefits of gasoline engines and electric motors and can be configured to obtain different objectives, such as improved fuel economy, increased power, or additional auxiliary power for electronic devices and power tools.

Diagram of full hybrid vehicle components, including (1)
an internal combustion engine, (2) an electric motor, (3) a
generator, (4) a power split device, and (5) a high-capacity
battery.

Some of the advanced technologies typically used by hybrids include

Regenerative Braking. The electric motor applies resistance to the drivetrain causing the wheels to slow down. In return, the energy from the wheels turns the motor, which functions as a generator, converting energy normally wasted during coasting and braking into electricity, which is stored in a battery until needed by the electric motor.

Electric Motor Drive/Assist. The electric motor provides additional power to assist the engine in accelerating, passing, or hill climbing. This allows a smaller, more efficient engine to be used. In some vehicles, the motor alone provides power for low-speed driving conditions where internal combustion engines are least efficient.

Automatic Start/Shutoff. Automatically shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop and restarts it when the accelerator is pressed. This prevents wasted energy from idling.


More Hybrid Models Avaiable Soon

The number of hybrid vehicles available to consumers continues to grow as Ford Motor Company offers the first commercially available hybrid SUV, the Escape Hybrid, for model year 2005. Toyota Motor Corporation will also be offering hybrid versions of the Toyota Highlander and Lexus RX400 SUVs for model year 2005. Honda will be offering a hybrid version of the Accord for this model year, further increasing consumer choices for hybrid vehicles.

In addition to these new hybrids, the Honda Insight and Civic Hybrid and the Toyota Prius are still available to consumers and offer exceptional gas mileage, the best in their respective classes. These vehicles are also environmentally friendly, emitting less global warming and smog-forming emissions than most conventional vehicles. Hybrid pickup trucks are also available as General Motors Corporation continues to offer the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra hybrid pickup trucks to a limited number of fleet and commercial operators in selected areas.

More Hybrids Coming Soon
How Hybrids Get Great Gas Mileage

Gas-Saving, Low-Emission Choices

Chevy Silverado Hybrid (2005)  
MPG
(city/hwy)
Price
(MSRP)
Chevy Silverado Hybrid Automatic(2WD)
18/21
NA
Automatic(4WD)
17/19
NA
Full-size pickup truck
First hybrid pickup with MPG certified by EPA
5-13% better gas mileage than non-hybrid version

GMC Sierra Hybrid (2005)  
MPG
(city/hwy)
Price
(MSRP)
GMC Sierra Hybrid Automatic(2WD)
18/21
NA
Automatic(4WD)
17/19
NA
Full-size pickup truck
First hybrid pickup with MPG certified by EPA
5-13% better gas mileage than non-hybrid version

Ford Escape HEV (2005)  
MPG
(city/hwy)
Price
(MSRP)
Ford Escape HEV Automatic(2WD)
36/31
NA
Automatic(4WD)
33/29
NA
Sport Utility Vehicle
First hybrid SUV with MPG certified by EPA
Most efficient Sport Utility Vehicle in 2005

Honda Civic Hybrid (2005)  
MPG
(city/hwy)
Price
(MSRP)
Honda Civic Hybrid Automatic
48/47
47/48
NA
5-speed manual
46/51
45/51
NA
5 passenger sedan
First hybrid version of an established car model
40% better gas mileage than conventional Civic Sedan

Honda Insight (2005)  
MPG
(city/hwy)
Price
(MSRP)
Honda Insight Automatic
57/56
NA
5-speed manual
61/66
NA
Two Seater
First hybrid sold in the U.S. (introduced 2000 model year)
Light-weight aluminum body
Best gas mileage (manual transmission) of the three hybrids

Toyota Prius (2005)  
MPG
(city/hwy)
Price
(MSRP)
Toyota Prius Automatic
60/51
NA
5 passenger sedan (Midsize passenger car)
First mass-produced hybrid in the world
0-60 in 10.1 seconds

Even More Choices Coming Soon

According to automakers, consumers who care about fuel economy will have a dozen hybrid cars and trucks to choose from within the next few years. Below is a list of hybrids and their announced introduction dates.

Manufacturer
Model
Type
Estimated Date Available
Model Year 2005
Dodge Ram Contractor Special
Fullsize Pickup
Fall 2005
Honda Accord Hybrid
Midsize Car
Released
Lexus RX 400h
Midsize SUV
Released
Toyota Highlander
Midsize SUV
Released
Model Year 2006-2008
Saturn VUE
SUV
2006
Mercury Mariner Hybrid
Midsize SUV
2006
Nissan Altima Hybrid
Midsize Car
2006
Chevrolet Malibu/Equinox
Midsize Car/ SUV
2007
Chevrolet Tahoe (AHS II)
SUV
2007
GMC Yukon Hybrid (AHS II)
SUV
2007
Ford Futura
Midsize Car
2007
GMC Sierra Hybrid (AHS II)
Fullsize Pickup
2008
Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid (AHS II)
Fullsize Pickup
2008
Sources: J.D. Power-LMC; Energy & Environmental Analysis (EEA), Inc.

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How do hybrids get such great gas mileage?

It is no accident that the most fuel efficient vehicles in some classes for the 2005 model year are hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs). Hybrids can be configured in many different ways to achieve a variety of different objectives. They combine the best features of the internal combustion engine with an electric motor and can significantly improve fuel economy without sacrificing performance or driving range. HEVs may also be configured to provide electrical power to auxiliary loads such as power tools.

HEVs are primarily propelled by an internal combustion engine, just like conventional vehicles. However, they also convert energy normally wasted during coasting and braking into electricity, which is stored in a battery until needed by the electric motor. The electric motor is used to assist the engine when accelerating or hill climbing and in low-speed driving conditions where internal combustion engines are least efficient. Some HEVs also automatically shut off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop and restart it when the accelerator is pressed. This prevents wasted energy from idling. Unlike all-electric vehicles, HEVs now being offered do not need to be plugged into an external source of electricity to be recharged; conventional gasoline and regenerative braking provide all the energy the vehicle needs.

Potential buyers should also be aware that the federal government is currently offering tax incentives for HEVs and other alternative fuel vehicles. Some states also offer incentives.

For fuel economy information on these vehicles, please visit the Compare Side-by-Side section.

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