Maxim Hybrid Cars 2012

The term hybrid is generally used to describe a car, sports utility vehicle (SUV), truck, or bus that has a conventional internal combustion engine operating on either gasoline or diesel fuel as well as an electrical system to assist in the deceleration and acceleration of the vehicle. During a normal deceleration, the electrical generator is activated when the brake pedal is applied to slow the vehicle and store the energy in an onboard bank of batteries. This is called regenerative braking. Hard braking applies the standard mechanical brakes as well. The system then draws upon this stored energy during acceleration. The batteries have a very limited capacity; therefore, descending down a mountain road will not provide enough stored energy to climb back up the other side. The electrical system does not charge the batteries when coasting to a stoplight, as many people do to improve fuel mileage. The electrical system is more beneficial for people who drive aggressively with "jack rabbit" starts and stops. Pictured is a 2006 Honda Insight. Click the image to see an enlargement.

The hybrid vehicle is best suited for stop-and-go city driving in vehicles such as taxies and buses. A typical hybrid car has improved fuel efficiency in this type of driving. Highway driving is much different. The car must haul the heavy batteries while the electrical regeneration system is virtually unused. The fuel economy of a hybrid car on the highway is worse than that of a similar conventional car, a fact that a salesman or politician will never tell you.

According to the official Honda web page, the Honda Insight has an "EPA mileage estimate of 60 mpg city and 66 mpg highway. Mileage figures are shown for comparison purposes only. Actual mileage may vary." This means that the car gets 66 miles per gallon of gasoline (mpg) on the highway when the hybrid electrical regeneration system is mostly inactive. The hybrid feature only functions in stop-and-go driving. The car is advertised to get 60 mpg in the city. This raises another set of questions. What is the mileage in city driving with the hybrid electrical system disconnected? What is the real mileage benefit of the hybrid system? What is the mileage with the air-conditioning system on in a location such as Phoenix, Arizona? The air-conditioning system will place a high load on the tiny engine that will reduce the gas mileage drastically. Find the answers to these questions if you can. The manufacturers won't tell you. Please click the mailbox at the bottom of this page to send the author a link if you find the answer to these questions. No one has responded yet.

Hybrid vehicles in general have special tires to reduce rolling resistance. Tires on the Honda Insight are hard as a rock and become dangerous in adverse weather conditions. The car is simply not drivable in winter conditions. The tires slide all over the road. The winter tires show how important rolling resistance is to fuel-efficiency because fuel mileage plunges more than 15 mpg without them.

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