Driving has been a part of America since the invention of the automobile. Engines continued to get bigger and more powerful and American muscle became the name of the game. Then fuel shortages sent a scare into the nation and cars became more economical and slowly incorporated more technology into them.
It seems that automobiles in America have now reached the tipping point where the hybrid or electric car isn’t the odd choice anymore. They have become the norm. More companies are planning releases of more electric cars as the battery technology has made them better.
With the environmental challenges facing the world, it’s not likely that the industry will be heading back to large guzzling V8 engines anytime soon. While there will always be a place for a great gas powered car, the future is here and it’s full of alternative vehicles.
The Two Types of Hybrids
There are two types of hybrids that people typically recognize. The first type has been around for a while now and was introduced early. These hybrids had electric motors which were used situationally to supplement the gas engine. This had the benefit of reducing fuel economy and allowing for individual assist to wheels, making the vehicle more stable in corners. The downside was that the benefit to fuel economy wasn’t as high as many hoped.
The second type of hybrid is what’s typically called a plug in hybrid. The concept of the hybrid is instead put into reverse. The electric engine is the primary method of motivation for the vehicle. The gas engine is mostly used as a way to recharge the batteries in the electric engine when it’s starting to get low. The gas engine will also be called upon for difficult moments, like low gear uphill starts or when accelerating to pass. When returning to the garage, these are plugged back into their power outlet to recharge the batteries. The shift is towards these vehicles as they use far less gasoline and post some astronomical fuel economy numbers.
Benefits and Disadvantages of the Electric Cars
Electric cars that completely eschew any form of hybrid engine are also very popular. In many cases now, companies will offer a vehicle in both gas and electric, as they slowly move towards more of the latter. However, electric cars are far from perfect. Here is some of the benefits and issues that electric vehicles can bring:
- Economy - The cost per mile of an electric car can’t be beat. It cuts a lot of the fuel expenses.
- Full of Technology - An electric car will typically have a large amount of features to assist in running the engine.
- Powerful - Unlike gasoline engines, electric engines can produce 100% of their power and torque immediately. This means some pretty great acceleration speeds against a gasoline engine with comparative horsepower.
- Range - The biggest issue has been, and will continue to be vehicle ranges. Electric cars are limited by their batteries. Ranges do continue to grow, and the innovation of fast charge stations could be a boon to fixing this problem.
- Lack of Sounds - Some people may consider this an advantage, but many people feel uncomfortable driving vehicles this silent. It can lull people to feel sleepy. Many vehicles now come with simulated sounds that come through the speaker system.
- Severe Incidents - It’s not often that a vehicle catches on fire. There is a danger when an electric vehicle goes through a catastrophic accident and catches on fire in the battery bay of it going on for a long period of time. Modern firefighters and first responders will need to be trained to handle these situations.