Hybrid Cars – What Makes Them Hybrids?
The auto market has been devastated, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t pockets that aren’t still doing well. The most popular is undoubtedly the modern hybrid. It seems every car company is kicking them out, but do people really understand what they are?
The modern hybrid gets its name because it is comprised of two power sources. The first is an internal combustion engine, the basic power plant used in 99 percent of vehicles on the road for the last 80 years or so. The second power source is an electrically energy source. The power plants are controlled by a computer that switches between the two as needed.
A car that does not have these two power sources is not a hybrid. Flex fuel cars, for instance, run on gasoline or 85 percent ethanol fuels. While there are two fuel sources, the mechanism that produces power is still an internal combustion engine.
As such, the car is simply a flex fuel vehicle. You might be driving one and not even realize it!
What about electric cars? The Chevy Volt is being touted in advertisements even though GM hasn’t come close to figuring out the battery issue inherent in all electrical vehicles. Regardless, the electric car is not a hybrid because it is purely an electric car. There is no internal combustion engine because gas is not used. Of course, coal is being burned at a plant to provide electricity to the grid, but nobody seems interested in discussing that!
So, are we being overly technical in defining what is and what is not a hybrid? Absolutely! There is a reason, however. Each classification [flex, hybrid, electrical] comes with different issues that need to be debated. It is a fine point with big ramifications.
Each power source comes with ramifications whether they be consumption of oil as a fuel source or environmental in the form of pollution and greenhouse gases.