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A hybrid vehicle is a vehicle that uses two or more distinct power sources to move the vehicle. The term most commonly refers to hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), which combine an internal combustion engine and one or more electric motors.


Power sources for hybrid vehicle include:

Vehicle type

Two-wheeled and cycle-type vehicles

Mopeds and electric bicycles are a simple form of a hybrid, as power is delivered both via an internal combustion engine or electric motor and the rider's muscles. Early prototypes of motorcycles in the late 1800s used the same principles.

  • In a parallel hybrid bicycle human and motor power are mechanically coupled at the pedal drive train or at the rear or the front wheel, e.g. using a hub motor, a roller pressing onto a tire, or a connection to a wheel using a transmission element. Human and motor torques are added together. Almost all manufactured models are of this type. See Motorized bicycles, Mopeds and for more information.

  • In a series hybrid bicycle (SH) the user powers a generator using the pedals. This is converted into electricity and can be fed directly to the motor giving a chainless bicycle but also to charge a battery. The motor draws power from the battery and must be able to deliver the full mechanical torque required because none is available from the pedals. SH bicycles are commercially available, because they are very simple in theory and manufacturing.

:The first known prototype and publication of an SH bicycle is by Augustus Kinzel (US Patent 3'884'317) in 1975. In 1994 Bernie Macdonalds conceived the Electrilite SH lightweight vehicle which used power electronics allowing regenerative braking and pedaling while stationary. In 1995 Thomas Müller designed a "Fahrrad mit elektromagnetischem Antrieb" in his 1995 diploma thesis and built a functional vehicle. In 1996 Jürg Blatter and Andreas Fuchs of Berne University of Applied Sciences built an SH bicycle and in 1998 mounted the system onto a Leitra tricycle (European patent EP 1165188). In 1999 Harald Kutzke described his concept of the "active bicycle": the aim is to approach the ideal bicycle weighing nothing and having no drag by electronic compensation. Until 2005 Fuchs and colleagues built several prototype SH tricycles and quadricycle. [24045]
Hybrid vehicles save an ample amount of gas.

Heavy vehicles

Hybrid power trains are used for diesel-electric or turbo-electric railway locomotives, buses, heavy goods vehicles, mobile hydraulic machinery, and ships. Typically some form of heat engine (usually diesel) drives an electric generator or hydraulic pump which powers one or more electric or hydraulic motors. There are advantages in distributing power through wires or pipes rather than mechanical elements especially when multiple drives—e.g. driven wheels or propellers—are required. There is power lost in the double conversion from typically diesel fuel to electricity to power an electric or hydraulic motor. With large vehicles the advantages often outweigh the disadvantages especially as the conversion losses typically decrease with size. With the exception of non nuclear submarines, presently there is no or relatively little energy storage capacity on most heavy vehicles, e.g. auxiliary batteries and hydraulic accumulators—this is changing.

Rail transport


An example of a typical "hybrid" is the new Autorail à grande capacité (AGC or high-capacity railcar) built by the Canadian company Bombardier for service in France. This has dual mode (diesel and electric motors) and dual voltage capabilities (1500 and 25000 V) allowing it to be used on many different rail systems.


The First Hybrid Evaluating prototype locomotive was designed and contracted by railway research center MATRAI in 1999 and the sample was ready in was a G12 locomotive that was converted to hybrid by using a 200KW diesel generator and batteries and also was equipped with 2 AC traction motors (out of 4) retrofited in the cover of the DC traction motors.


The first operational prototype of a hybrid train engine with significant energy storage and energy regeneration capability was introduced in Japan as the KiHa E200. It utilizes battery packs of lithium ion batteries mounted on the roof to store recovered energy.

North America

In the U.S., General Electric introduced a prototype railroad engine with their "Ecomagination" technology in 2007. They store energy in a large set of sodium nickel chloride (Na-NiCl2) batteries to capture and store energy normally dissipated during dynamic braking or coasting downhill. They expect at least a 10% reduction in fuel use with this system and are now spending about $2 billion/yr on hybrid research.

Variants of the typical diesel electric locomotive include the Green Goat (GG) and Green Kid (GK) switching/yard engines built by Canada's Railpower Technologies. They utilize a large set of heavy duty long life (~10 yr) rechargeable lead acid (Pba) batteries and 1000 to 2000 HP electric motors as the primary motive sources and a new clean burning diesel generator (~160 Hp) for recharging the batteries that is used only as needed. No power or fuel are wasted for idling—typically 60–85% of the time for these type locomotives. It is unclear if dynamic braking (regenerative) power is recaptured for reuse; but in principle it should be easily utilized.

Since these engines typical need extra weight for traction purposes anyway the battery pack's weight is a negligible penalty. In addition the diesel generator and battery package are normally built on an existing "retired" "yard" locomotive's frame for significant additional cost savings. The existing motors and running gear are all rebuilt and reused. Diesel fuel savings of 40–60% and up to 80% pollution reductions are claimed over that of a "typical" older switching/yard engine. The same advantages that existing hybrid cars have for use with frequent starts and stops and idle periods apply to typical switching yard use. "Green Goat" locomotives have been purchased by Canadian Pacific Railway, BNSF Railway, Kansas City Southern Railway and Union Pacific Railroad among others.


Railpower Technologies Corp. engineers working with TSI Terminal Systems Inc. in Vancouver, British Columbia are testing a hybrid diesel electric power unit with battery storage for use in Rubber Tyred Gantry (RTG) cranes. RTG cranes are typically used for loading and unloading shipping containers onto trains or trucks in ports and container storage yards. The energy used to lift the containers can be partially regained when they are lowered. Diesel fuel and emission reductions of 50–70% are predicted by Railpower engineers. First systems are expected to be operational in 2007.

Road Transport, Commercial Vehicles

Early hybrid systems are being investigated for trucks and other heavy highway vehicles with some operational trucks and buses starting to come into use. The main obstacles seem to be smaller fleet sizes and the extra costs of a hybrid system are yet compensated for by fuel savings,Brown, Matthew. "Energy debate heats up: the high gas prices of last summer fueled the energy debate that continues today." State Legislatures 32.2 (Feb 2006): 12(5). Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. BENTLEY UPPER SCHOOL LIBRARY (BAISL). 14 Oct. 2009/>. but with the price of oil set to continue on its upward trend, the tipping point may be reached by the end of 1995. Advances in technology and lowered battery cost and higher capacity etc. developed in the hybrid car industry are already filtering into truck use as Toyota, Ford, GM and others introduce hybrid pickups and SUVs. Kenworth Truck Company recently introduced a hybrid-electric truck, called the Kenworth T270 Class 6 that for city usage seems to be competitive. FedEx and others are starting to invest in hybrid delivery type vehicles—particularly for city use where hybrid technology may pay off first.

Military Off Road Vehicles

Since 2002, the U.S. military has been testing serial hybrid Humvees and have found them to deliver faster acceleration, a stealth mode with low thermal signature/ near silent operation, and greater fuel economy.


Ships with both mast-mounted sails and steam engines were an early form of hybrid vehicle. Another example is the diesel-electric submarine. This runs on batteries when submerged and the batteries can be re-charged by the diesel engine when the craft is on the surface.

Newer hybrid ship-propulsion schemes include large towing kites manufactured by companies such as SkySails. Towing kites can fly at heights several times higher than the tallest ship masts, capturing stronger and steadier winds.


Delta Air Lines is going to be turning their Boeing 737NGs into hybrids in early 2010 by mounting the WheelTug ground propulsion system on their fleet of Boeing 737NGs . By using the APU, which is powered by a turbine, to power a Chorus Motor mounted on the landing gear for ground movement, Delta Air Lines will be creating a hybrid configuration by ceasing to use the main engines for anything but take off, landing, and flight.

Boeing 737-800

The Boeing Fuel Cell Demonstrator Airplane has a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell/lithium-ion battery hybrid system to power an electric motor, which is coupled to a conventional propeller. The fuel cell provides all power for the cruise phaseof flight. During takeoff and climb, the flight segment that requires the most power, the system draws on lightweight lithium-ion batteries.

The demonstrator aircraft is a Dimona motor glider, built by Diamond Aircraft Industries of Austria, which also carried out structural modifications to the aircraft. With a wing span of 16.3 meters (53.5 feet), the airplane will be able to cruise at approximately 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) on power from the fuel cell.

Engine type

Hybrid electric-petroleum vehicles

When the term hybrid vehicle is used, it most often refers to a Hybrid electric vehicle. These encompass such vehicles as the AHS2 (Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Silverado, Cadillac Escalade, and the Saturn Vue), Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Ford Escape Hybrid, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Honda Insight, Honda Civic Hybrid and others. A petroleum-electric hybrid most commonly uses internal combustion engines (generally gasoline or Diesel engines, powered by a variety of fuels) and electric batteries to power electric motors. There are many types of petroleum-electric hybrid drivetrains, from Full hybrid to Mild hybrid, which offer varying advantages and disadvantages.

While liquid fuel/electric hybrids date back to the late 1800s, the braking regenerative hybrid was invented by David Arthurs, an electrical engineer from Springdale, Arkansas in 1978–79. His home-converted Opel GT was reported to get as much as 75MPG and plans are still sold to this original design, and the "Mother Earth News" modified version on their website.

The plug-in-electric-vehicle (PEV) is becoming more and more common. It has the range needed in locations where there are wide gaps with no services. The batteries can be plugged in to house (mains) electricity for charging, as well being charged while the engine is running.

Continuously outboard recharged electric vehicle (COREV)

Given suitable infrastructure, permissions and vehicles, BEV can be recharged while the user drives. The BEV establishes contact with an electrified rail, plate or overhead wires on the highway via an attached conducting wheel or other similar mechanism (see Conduit current collection). The BEV's batteries are recharged by this process—on the highway—and can then be used normally on other roads until the battery is discharged.

This provides the advantage, in principle, of virtually unrestricted highway range as long as you stay where you have BEV infrastructure access. Since many destinations are within 100 km of a major highway, this may reduce the need for expensive battery systems. Unfortunately private use of the existing electrical system is nearly universally prohibited.

The technology for such electrical infrastructure is old and, outside of some cities, is not widely distributed (see Conduit current collection, trams, electric rail, trolleys, third rail). Updating the required electrical and infrastructure costs can be funded, in principle, by toll revenue, gasoline or other taxes.

Hybrid fuel (dual mode)

In addition to vehicles that use two or more different devices for propulsion, some also consider vehicles that use distinct energy sources or input types ("fuels") using the same engine to be hybrids, although to avoid confusion with hybrids as described above and to use correctly the terms, these are perhaps more correctly described as dual mode vehicles:
  • Some electric trolleybuses can switch between an on board diesel engine and overhead electrical power depending on conditions (see dual mode bus). In principle, this could be combined with a battery subsystem to create a true plug-in hybrid trolleybus, although , no such design seems to have been announced.
  • Flexible-fuel vehicles can use a mixture of input fuels mixed in one tank — typically gasoline and ethanol, or methanol, or biobutanol.
  • Bi-fuel vehicle:Liquified petroleum gas and natural gas are very different from petroleum or diesel and cannot be used in the same tanks, so it would be impossible to build an (LPG or NG) flexible fuel system. Instead vehicles are built with two, parallel, fuel systems feeding one engine. While the duplicated tanks cost space in some applications, the increased range and flexibility where (LPG or NG) infrastructure is incomplete may be a significant incentive to purchase.
  • Some vehicles have been modified to use another fuel source if it is available, such as cars modified to run on autogas and diesels modified to run on waste vegetable oil that has not been processed into biodiesel.
  • Power-assist mechanisms for bicycles and other human-powered vehicles are also included (see Motorized bicycle).

Fluid power hybrid

Hydraulic and pneumatic hybrid vehicles use an engine to charge a pressure accumulator to drive the wheels via hydraulic or pneumatic (i.e. compressed air) drive units. The energy recovery rate is higher and therefore the system is more efficient than battery charged hybrids, demonstrating a 60% to 70% increase in energy economy in EPA testing . Under tests done by the EPA, a hydraulic hybrid Ford Expedition returned City, and highway. UPSmarker currently has two trucks in service with this technology.

While the system has faster and more efficient charge/discharge cycling and is cheaper than gas-electric hybrids, the accumulator size dictates total energy storage capacity and requires more space than a battery.

Hybrid vehicle power train configurations

Parallel hybrid

In a parallel hybrid the electric motor and the internal combustion engine are installed so that they can both individually or together power the vehicle. In contrast to the power split configuration typically only one electric motor is installed. Most commonly the internal combustion engine, the electric motor and gear box are coupled by automatically controlled clutches. For electric driving the clutch between the internal combustion engine is open while the clutch to the gear box is engaged. While in combustion mode the engine and motor run at the same speed.

The first mass production parallel hybrid is the Honda Insight.

Mild parallel hybrid

These types use a generally compact electric motor to give extra output during the acceleration, and to generate on the deceleration phase.

On-road examples include Honda Civic Hybrid, Honda Insight, Mercedes Benz S400 BlueHYBRID, BMW 7-Series hybrids, and Smart fortwo with micro hybrid drive.

Power split hybrid

In a power split hybrid electric drive train there are always two electric motors and one internal combustion engine. Typical passenger car installations such as those from Toyota and Lexus. One motor mostly acts as a generator while the other one is used as a motor or generator. The two motors are connected through a planetary gear set.

The Toyota Prius, the Ford Escape and the Lexus Gs450 and LS600 are power split hybrids.

On the open road, the primary power source is the internal combustion engine (partly to maximise the life of the batteries), but when maximum power is required, for example to overtake, the electric motors are used to maximise the available power for a short time, giving the effect of having a larger engine than that actually installed.

Series hybrid

A series hybrid uses an electric motor(s), which is powered by a single-speed internal combustion engine. While operating at its most efficient single speed, the combustion engine drives an electric generator instead of directly driving the wheels. This engine can do any combination of the following: charge a battery, charge a capacitor, directly power the electric motor. When large amounts of power and torque are required, the electric motor can draw electricity from a combination of batteries, capacitors, and the generator. A series hybrid does not require batteries in its design as a capacitor can act as a storage device.

There are three main options for series hybrid electric motors: Permanent Magnet, 3-Phase AC Induction, Multi-Phase AC Induction. Permament Magnet motors, like those found in the Prius, degrade in performance at higher temperatures and require a cooling system in the design. They allow for regenerative braking, and this comes with a safety trade off as any time there is motion by the magnets, they produce voltage. Permanent magnets also require rare earth which are expensive and difficult to source.

In contrast, 3-Phase AC Induction motors can be air cooled and therefore have better stamina, but have less power density which means that the weight saved from removing the cooling system is replaced with heavier and more complex gearing for the drivetrain. This more complex transmission gearing is also needed to compensate for the fact that a standard 3-Phase AC Induction motor can be either low-speed high-torque (like a standard vehicles starter) or a high-speed low-torque (like a standrd vehicles alternator) but not both.

A Multi-Phase AC Induction motor (called a Chorus Motor) co-opts the harmonics that limit motor performance, which means a that it can smoothly change from behaving like a high-torque low-speed motor to behaving like a low-torque high-speed motor, without the need for efficiency robbing physical gearing that would be required to compensate for a 3-Phase AC Induction motors lower power density. The January 2009 issue of Motor Trend magazine discusses this third choice and its use in planes and vehicles. [24046] Furthermore, by co-opting the harmonics that limit standard motor performance, greater torque can be generated by this motor; up to 10 times the torque of a standard motor. This extra torque can be generated for short 'burst' or 'startup' torque requirements, which means that the Chorus Motor used in a series hybrid can both be smaller and be sized for its 'average' torque requirements while still providing the acceleration torque needed for occasional circumstances like joining a highway from a dead stop. This motor is presently only being used in WheelTug and its use turns an airplane into a series hybrid with a turbine in the APU generating the electricity needed to power the Chorus Motor in the WheelTug

BYD Auto's F3DM sedan is the world's first mass-produced plug-in hybrid, which went on sale in China on December 15, 2008. It costs the equivalent of USD $16,062 and has an all-electric range of 68.4 miles. The F3DM is set to debut in North America and Europe in 2011. Meanwhile, GM hopes to introduce the Chevy Volt by 2011, aiming for an all-electric range of 40 miles and a price tag of around $40,000.

Plug-in hybrid electrical vehicle (PHEV)

Another subtype added to the hybrid market is the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV). The PHEV is usually a general fuel-electric (parallel or serial) hybrid with increased energy storage capacity (usually Li-ion batteries). It may be connected to mains electricity supply at the end of the journey to avoid charging using the on-board internal combustion engine.

This concept is attractive to those seeking to minimize on-road emissions by avoiding – or at least minimizing – the use of ICE during daily driving. As with pure electric vehicles, the total emissions saving, for example in CO2 terms, is dependent upon the energy source of the electricity generating company.

For some users, this type of vehicle may also be financially attractive so long as the electrical energy being used is cheaper than the petrol/diesel that they would have otherwise used. Current tax systems in many European countries use mineral oil taxation as a major income source. This is generally not the case for electricity, which is taxed uniformly for the domestic customer, however that person uses it. Some electricity suppliers also offer price benefits for off-peak night users, which may further increase the attractiveness of the plug-in option for commuters and urban motorists.

Fuel cell, electric hybrid

The fuel cell hybrid is generally an electric vehicle equipped with a fuel cell. The fuel cell as well as the electric battery are both power sources, making the vehicle a hybrid. Fuel cells use hydrogen as a fuel and power the electric battery when it is depleted. The Chevrolet Equinox FCEV, Ford Edge Hyseries Drive and Honda FCX are examples of a fuel cell/electric hybrid.

Environmental issues

Fuel consumption and emissions reductions

The hybrid vehicle typically achieves greater fuel economy and lower emissions than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles (ICEVs), resulting in fewer emissions being generated. These savings are primarily achieved by three elements of a typical hybrid design:
  1. relying on both the engine and the electric motors for peak power needs resulting in a smaller engine sized more for average usage rather than peak power usage. A smaller engine can have less internal losses and lower weight.
  2. having significant battery storage capacity to store and reuse recaptured energy, especially in stop-and-go traffic.
  3. recapturing significant amounts of energy during braking that are normally wasted as heat. This regenerative braking reduces vehicle speed by converting some of its kinetic energy into electricity, depending upon the power rating of the motor/generator;
Other techniques that are not necessarily 'hybrid' features, but that are frequently found on hybrid vehicles include:
  1. shutting down the engine during traffic stops or while coasting or other idle periods;
  2. improving aerodynamics ; (part of the reason that SUVs get such bad fuel economy is the drag on the car. A box shaped car or truck has to exert more force to move through the air causing more stress on the engine making it work harder). Improving the shape and aerodynamics of a car is a good way to help better the fuel economy and also improve handling at the same time.
  3. using low rolling resistance tires ; (tires were often made to give a quiet, smooth ride, high grip etc. but efficiency was a lower priority. Tires cause mechanical drag, once again making the engine work harder, consuming more fuel. Hybrid cars may use special tires that are more inflated than regular tires and stiffer or by choice of carcase structure and rubber compound have lower rolling resistance while retaining acceptable grip, and so improving fuel economy whatever the power source.
  4. powering the a/c, power steering, and other auxiliary pumps electrically as and when needed ; this reducing mechanical losses compared with driving them continuously with traditional engine belts.

These features make a hybrid vehicle particularly efficient for city traffic where there are frequent stops, coasting and idling periods. In addition noise emissions are reduced, particularly at idling and low operating speeds, in comparison to conventional engine vehicles. For continuous high speed highway use these features are much less useful in reducing emissions.

Hybrid Vehicle Emissions

Hybrid Vehicle emissions today are getting close to or even lower than the recommended level set by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The recommended levels they suggest for a typical passenger vehicle should be equated to 5.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide. The three most popular hybrid vehicles, Honda Civic, Honda Insight and Toyota Prius, set the standards even higher by producing 4.1, 3.5, and 3.5 tons showing a major improvement in carbon dioxide emissions.

Environmental impact of hybrid car battery

Though hybrid cars consume less petroleum than conventional cars, there is still an issue regarding the environmental damage of the Hybrid car battery. Today most Hybrid car batteries are one of two types: (1) nickel metal hydride, or (2) lithium ion; both are regarded as more environmentally friendly than lead-based batteries which constitute the bulk of car batteries today."Jim Kliesch, author of the 'Green Book: The Environmental Guide to Cars and Trucks' told, 'There are many types of batteries.30 Oct. 2008: n. pag. how stuff works. Web. 9 Oct. 2009.Fuller, John. "Do hybrid cars cause pollution?" Get stuff 30 Oct. 2008: stuff works. Web. 9 Oct. 2009. / Some are far more toxic than others. While batteries like lead acid or nickel cadmium are incredibly bad for the environment, the toxicity levels and environmental impact of nickel metal hydride batteries—the type currently used in hybrids—are much lower.'"[24047]. Nickel-based batteries are known carcinogens, and have been shown to cause a variety of teratogenic effects..

Raw materials increasing costs

There is an impending increase in the costs of many rare materials used in the manufacture of hybrid cars .

For example, the rare earth element dysprosium is required to fabricate many of the advanced electric motors and battery systems in hybrid propulsion systems G, Nishiyama. "Japan urges China to ease rare metals supply." 8 November 2007. Reuters Latest News. 10 March 2008 />. Neodymium is another rare earth metal which is a crucial ingredient in high-strength magnets that are found in permanent magnet electric motors [24048]

Nearly all the rare earth elements in the world come from China, and many analysts believe that an overall increase in Chinese electronics manufacturing will consume this entire supply by 2012. In addition, export quotas on Chinese Rare Earth exports have resulted in a generally shaky supply of those metals .

A few non-Chinese sources such as the advanced Hoidas Lakemarker project in northern Canada as well as Mt Weld in Australia are currently under development; however it is not known if these sources will be developed before the shortage hits.

Alternative green vehicles

Other types of green vehicles include other vehicles that go fully or partly on alternative energy sources than fossil fuel. Another option is to use alternative fuel composition (i.e. biofuels) in conventional fossil fuel-based vehicles, making them go partly on renewable energy sources.

Other approaches include personal rapid transit, a public transportation concept that offers automated on-demand non-stop transportation, on a network of specially-built guideways.

See also


  1. What is a Hybrid Vehicle? - An introduction to hybrid cars and how they are defined, with examples of different hybrid technologies
  2. Clean Power Technology CESAR system
  3. Biochar burner/stirling engine hybrid vehicle
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  7. "Manned airplane powered by fuel cell makes flight tests.(METALS/POLYMERS/CERAMICS)." Advanced Materials & Processes. 165.6 (June 2007): 9(1). Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. Gale Document Number:A166034681
  8. Fuel Saving Calculator
  10. EPA Announces Partnership to Demonstrate World's First Full Hydraulic Hybrid Urban Delivery Vehicle | Modeling, Testing, and Research | US EPA
  11. Capturing the power of hydraulics - AutoblogGreen
  12. EPA unveils hydraulic hybrid UPS delivery truck - Autoblog
  13. Crippen, A. (December 15, 2008) "Warren Buffett's Electric Car Hits the Chinese Market, But Rollout Delayed For U.S. & Europe" CNBC. Retrieved December 2008.
  14. Balfour, F. (December 15, 2008) "China's First Plug-In Hybrid Car Rolls Out" Business Week. Retrieved December 2008.
  15. "New BYD Hybrid Gets Jump in Electric Car Wars in China" (
  16. [2]
  17. BYD to Launch Electric Car Sales in China Next Month – EVWorld
  18. [3]
  19. [4]
  20. [5]
  21. /
  22. /

External links

Hybrid Automobile Manufacturers' Websites

Other Hybrid Links

Hybrid airplanes

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