What Does a Hybrid Engine Do?

January 27th, 2013 by

Fuel GaugeOkay, the obvious answer is “save you money,” which is why automakers like Honda are making more of their vehicles available with a hybrid gasoline-electric powertrain, but what else does a hybrid engine do?

Well, it can also be viewed as protecting the environment, thanks to its ability to decrease gasoline consumption, but what’s more interesting, I think, is what the engine is actually doing underneath the hood and how it works.

Now, you’ve probably already figured out that a hybrid is a partially electric car, if you weren’t aware already, but how does your vehicle’s electric motor work in conjunction with its traditional gas-driven engine?

One of the most common traits of hybrid vehicles is that, when idling or coasting, they automatically shut off gasoline consumption. After all, if you are stopped or heading to a stop, your brakes and inertia are the only things that really have to be doing something, so why waste the gas? Of course, you need certain vital car components functioning, which is where the electric motor and lithium ion battery come in.

So, that’s one way to reduce fuel consumption, and would you believe it’s one of the most effective means that a hybrid car uses to be more efficient? The exact numbers vary from vehicle to vehicle, but simply switching off the engine is one of the best fuel savers around.

The other way that many hybrids are energy smart is by using a process called regenerative braking. When you apply the brakes on your vehicle, you’re using friction to bring the wheels to a full stop. If you know anything about friction, you’ll be aware that this generates heat, which is just another form of energy. So, some technicians build a way to recover some of that energy lost from braking, and it goes to charging the battery of your hybrid.