Learn the Hybrid Lingo

Experts have predicted that 4 out of 5 cars sold in the year 2020 will be fuel efficient hybrids as a result of increasingly tougher emissions standards. If you are in the market for a new car and are environmentally conscientious then you might want to learn the Hybrid lingo before checking out the car lots. By appearing knowledgeable, you may be able to work a better deal from the salesman. Here are some of the “must-know” terms:

Hybrid Synergy Drive
Hybrid Synergy Drive is a refinement of the original Toyota Hybrid System (THS) used in the 1997–2003 Toyota Prius. The name was changed to accommodate usage outside the Toyota brand. Toyota describes HSD-equipped vehicles as having E-CVT (Electronically-controlled Continuously Variable Transmission).

Two-Mode Hybrid System
Most 2008 hybrids do a good job in stop and go traffic but not highway usage. The Two-Mode system increases fuel efficiency above 40 mpg by use of a re-designed automatic transmission. GM introduced this technology on the Chevrolet tahoe and GMC Yukon 2008 hybrids with more models including the Chrysler Aspen hybrid converted over.

Integrated Motor Assist
Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) is Honda's hybrid car terminology, first introduced on the Insight in 1999. It uses an electric motor mounted between the engine and transmission. The implementation employs a parallel drivetrain.

Super-Capacitor Hybrid
A variation of the gas/electric design is being developed by BMW. Instead of using a stack of rechargeable batteries, BMW is investigating use of super-capacitors, making the car lighter, faster and more fuel efficient. As with the original hybrid concept, energy is recovered by regenerative braking. But instead of charging batteries, super-capacitors are charged instead. The capacitors store less power but unlike rechargeable batteries, all 100% of what is stored can be utilized. A 20% improvement in fuel efficiency has been reported with this technology.

The micro-hybrid is an initiative similar to the HEV, but without the large battery. The micro-hybrid, also called “stop-start”, causes the engine to stop idling during car slow down and stop conditions. This fuel efficient technology saves an estimated 5% - 15% for city driving and comes with a much lower price tag than full blown hybrids. Stop-start was introduced by Peugeot-Citroën on the Citroën C3 in 2004 and will be installed on most Peugeots and Citroëns in the EU on or around 2010. One big advantage of the micro-hybrid is that it is easier to implement and less expensive than other hybrid technologies. It is now also being combined with other fuel efficient hybrid technologies.

by Steve Auger
Author of the environmental blog Blog On Smog

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