These days no one wants to buy a car that eats up dollars at the gas pump. A hybrid offers as much fuel efficiency as possible through its design and technology. Depending on the model, hybrid cars can give their owners anywhere from 20 to 60mpg. They also have a good performance rating and a smooth ride without the gas drain.
Its in the automakers interest to produce these hybrids for the US market, since by law Automakers are mandated to keep the ?Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standard? or CAF? for short. Currently, the CAF? standard for all vehicles sold to consumers is 27.8mpg (8.55 liters per 100km). So if a car company can sell a hybrid with a mileage of 60mpg ( 3.92 liters per 100km) they can put 4 more large expensive luxury cars which give much less mileage on the market without violating CAF?.
In order to get the best mileage out of the hybrid, the car makers rely on optimizing the weight, the size and the aerodynamics. The weight is dramatically reduced by making the body out of light aluminum. The engine?s weight and height are also decreased. Materials such as carbon fiber and magnesium are also used in different models. The Honda Insight for example, which is about 1900 pounds (862kg) is less than half of what a traditional car weighs.
And a small efficient engine saves on energy, particularly when moving up and incline. A big engine uses more cylinders and puts those cylinders through more work and needs more gas. If you look at the Honda Insight, its engine weighs about 124 pounds (56kg) and contains only a 1 liter 3 cylinder engine. So it can produce 67 horsepower at 5700rpm. On top of that, there is the VTEC system and lean burn technology installed.
Another area that helps maximize the fuel efficiency of a hybrid is the use of advanced aerodynamics. When you are driving on a busy stretch of road, it?s the engine that provides the power needed to move the vehicle against force of the air. That force is called ?aerodynamic drag?. This drag is minimized in two ways. First, the hybrid is designed to have a smaller frontal area and second, all protruding objects are reduced. Covers are put on the wheels and some hybrids have small cameras in place of mirrors.
Jackson Porter is a staff writer at Environmental Central and is an occasional contributor to several other websites, including Automobile Enthusiast.
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09:24 - 18/12/2007