Hybrid: The Car For the Future

Hybrid: The Car For the Future

Transportation is very important to our every day lives. Throughout the history, many evolutions and changes have been made in transportation technology, and it continues growing at a rapid pace. At first, people used horses and horse trailers as their main transportation. Then in the Industrial Revolution, the steam engine was invented. Later, there was the invention of the combustion engine, and it is the beginning of the automobile industry. Many changes and improvements have been made in the development of automobiles. However, until today, the 21st century, people are still using gasoline as the many fuel for cars. Now in 2005, we have hybrids, a new generation of automobiles. Hybrids are fuel efficient, fuel economic and environment friendly, and they are the dominant cars for the next two decades. Here we are going to discuss the major benefits of driving a hybrid.
A hybrid can be simply defined as a vehicle with two sources of power combined. A modern hybrid vehicle, such as a Toyota Prius, uses both an electrical motor and a gasoline engine, and they work together to provide the power needed for a comfortable ride. Hybrids actually have been around longer than we think:
From 1897 to 1907, the Compagnie Parisienne des Voitures Electriques (roughly, Paris Electric Car Company), built a series of electric and hybrid vehicles, including the 1903 Krieger. With front-drive and power steering, the Krieger wasn't built in much quantity. One model ran on alcohol, and there was another version with what has been described as a gasoline-turbine engine; in those times, the term "turbine" sometimes meant “generator."(History of Hybrid, ¶ 4)
Before the full development of gasoline vehicles, hybrids were already introduced to the world. Later on, because of the introduction of self-starting gas engines, the production of hybrids had rapidly declined. A hundred years later, “the first modern commercial hybrids, the Toyota Prius, went on sale in Japan in 1997” (History of Hybrid Vehicles, ¶ 31). This indicates the start of the hybrid dynasty.
The discovery of gasoline had a great impact in the development of modern technology, especially the automotive industry. People had accepted gasoline as the most “ideal” fuel on this planet. Gasoline is economic with very high energy density. However, humans have excessively used fossil fuel in the development of society and civilization, resulting in the scarcity of petroleum. A hybrid is a solution to this problem. Hybrids are built with lightweight material, specially designed tires and better aerodynamic design to increase the gas efficiency. Both a gasoline engine and an electrical motor power the hybrids. The motor and engine share the job that used to be done by a single gas engine in a conventional car, and provide similar performance with less pressure on the gasoline engine. Therefore, these features increase the efficiency and mileage of a hybrid. Because of the dual engine design, the gasoline engine is built in smaller size, that means lighter weight and more efficient. Hybrids are able to regenerate electricity while moving on the road and stopping. The brakes for a conventional car just simply stop the car from moving, and the kinetic energy of the vehicle is lost in forms of heat; however, as a hybrid slows down, the braking system is able to capture some of the kinetic energy, converting it into electricity and storing it in the battery. Toyota Prius, the most popular hybrid in the U.S, averages 60 mpg (mile per gallon of gas) in the city and 55 mpg on the highway whereas a Toyota 4runner V6, a popular SUV, averages only 18 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. Hybrid vehicles have a clear advantage over conventional gas vehicles in terms of gas efficiency.`
Hybrids not only help people save oil resources on the earth, they can also help people save a fortune. Since 2004, the price of gasoline in the U.S has raised to the peak. The average October gasoline price had increased 38 cents from 2004 to 2005. California, the state that has the highest average gasoline prices, has averaged 2.75 dollar per gallon this October. A hybrid comes to people’s mind as they become frustrated while looking at the monthly spending on gasoline. The mileage of a hybrid is nearly four times more than a typical vehicle. For instance, a regular car needs to refill once every week for a price of 30 dollars per purchase. A hybrid that has the same mileage only needs to refill once every month. There is a 90-dollar saving every month, and a 1080-dollar savings every year.
Hybrids are also cleaner than most of the vehicles in today’s market. They emit lower toxic gases, as well as green house gases. Different recent researches showed that global warming has serious effect to the global climate, and it would become a threat to all living creatures on the earth. This idea has been revealed in the movie “The Day after Tomorrow.” The story is about how the change in climate due to global warming has caused full-scale disasters like tornados, hurricanes and tsunami. This has not only happened in movies. In December 2004, a tsunami in South Asia had devastated more than 275000 lives and crushed thousands of homes. This August, Hurricane Katrina attacked several major U.S cities near the Gulf, such as New Orleans and Houston. More than 1 million people were displaced from their homes. “Katrina is the shape of things to come,” said Joseph Romm, who is the executive director and founder of the Center for Energy and Climate Solutions. Global warming is mainly caused by the excessive amount of carbon dioxide released from the exhaust of cars. Other than green house gases, car exhausts also emit toxic pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and lead, in the atmosphere. Those pollutants can irritate human body functions and cause respiratory and heart diseases. Hybrid vehicles emit 97% less toxic emissions and half the amount of greenhouse gases. Driving a hybrid can help reduce the rate of global warming and lower air pollutions.
Many people are concerned that the hybrid does not have as much horsepower as traditional gas vehicles. It is true that hybrids have less horsepower that most of the automobiles in the market. However, Toyota Prius, as an example, has 76 horsepower, and that provides enough power to put the car moving on the freeway.
As a car moves along the freeway, the engine is doing three things, overcoming rolling resistance, overcoming air resistance and powering accessories, such as steering pump and air conditioner. The engine can do all these use less than 20 horsepower. We only use the maximum horsepower rate for 1% of our driving time. (How Hybrid Cars Work, Section 2, ¶ 1)
Therefore, that is not much sense in having 200 horsepower just for a regular ride to school or to work. Big horsepower also means a bigger engine and more weight, and so wastes more energy. One very important point for hybrids is that their emphasis is fuel efficiency, but not power or speed. On the other hand, more horsepower cars encourage drivers to drive faster than they are supposed to. Although a study showed that vehicles with more horsepower are involved in accidents less frequently, it also showed higher horsepower cars are involved in 22 percent more costly crashes than others (Progressive Casualty Insurance Company. 2005). Higher horsepower vehicle expose us to greater danger of injuring or losing our lives.
Hybrids can save energy and money. Moreover, they can protect the environment and provide enough power for a comfortable ride. Hybrids are going to continue improving to provide us a better world with cleaner air and greener grass. With features of hybrids, people can live longer and healthier under better environment; with limited resources, people can travel longer in lives and have more opportunities to explore lives as well as the world. Hybrids are the car for the future.

Works Cited

How Hybrid Cars Work. Retrieved November 14, 2005, from http://auto.howstuffworks.com/hybrid-car5.htm

History. Retrieved November 14, 2005, from http://www.hybridcars.com/history.html

Progressive Casualty Insurance Company (2005, April 11). Research Finds Higher Horsepower Cars Involved In Fewer Accidents. Retrieved from http://pressroom.progressive.com/releases/Hi_Horsepower_05.asp

History of Hybrid. Retrieved November 14, 2005, from http://www.modernracer.com/features/historyofthehybrid.html