December 29, 2006, Newsletter Issue #28: Hybrid Cars -- An Overivew

Tip of the Week

You may have been hearing about hybrid cars, but do you know what they are? How they work? Here's a brief overview.

Hybrid cars use a rechargeable energy storage system (RESS) in conjunction with fuel propulsion power to make them go. Usually the RESS is an electric source, and the fuel propulsion system uses gasoline; this combination results in a gasoline-electric hybrid vehicle.

Some modern hybrids use kinetic energy that is captured when the car breaks. Hybrids usually have a second electric motor that recharges the power or feeds power to an electric motor, unlike all-electric cars which have to be recharged from an external source.

Hybrids can have a series, parallel, or full hybrid construction, referring to the way the electric engine and the fuel propulsion engine are connected together. Most modern-day hybrids are parallel, which means the electric and combustion engines are connected.

Benefits of hybrids are plenty; they are more energy efficient than standard combustion engines, they cause reduced wear and tear on the gasoline engine in the car, they are quieter, and they have less polluting emissions. Buying a hybrid also entitles you for a tax credit on your Federal income taxes, and some states offer additional tax incentives on hybrid cars.

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