Hybrid vs Gas

Okay, so by now you've heard the hype that gasoline engines are better than hybrids and that all hybrids are is the slow way to the funny farm, so what's the truth? 


In truth, it's a little bit of both. Of course, gasoline-engined vehicles are, in a mano-a-mano matchup with the same style vehicle are going to win hands down. And, maybe you've also heard the one about the fact that hybrids are just the poor relations in an out-and-out, stoplight drag war. 


Okay, so what's the problem? The problem is this: while each statement is technically true when you look at the face of why you buy a hybrid or handle a hybrid or why you buy a gasoline-engined version of the same vehicle you will not only have a vehicle that will likely run circles around the hybrid, but will also do it with better mileage, too boot. 


But, hold on there folks — what is the story? The story simply is this: when driven correctly, hybrids are the no-holds-barred, hands-down winners of any gas mileage test. It's the way they are built. 


Hybrids are a combination gasoline and battery technology. They combine a large battery pack, usually underneath and away from the passenger compartment. The battery pack is charged by a smaller version of one of the automaker's popular engines and not only does it act to charge the battery pack, when the voltage falls below a certain point — such as when the car is under hard acceleration getting onto an interstate — it also provides additional power to help battery motor meet the requirements of the interstate. 


It does this through a combination of electronic sensors on the drivetrain, an accelerator position sensor, as well as sensors on the Automated Managment Unit itself (the brains of the outfit, so to speak), however, when you back off the power needs and the steady state needs set it, the sensors reset themselves, again, so to speak, and the power needs of the vehicle are taken over by the battery and if it needs a bit of power it will kick on the engine and if not, the vehicle will move along pretty quietly. For the most part, you will find that the smallish four will stay on a good stretch of the time when you are on the interstate just providing the juice your battery pack — chances are it's still Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMh) — with the voltage it needs to stay in business. 


It's when you get around town that the hybrid really shines because the vehicle is able to take advantage of things like regenerative braking where the vehicle's braking force is turned into usable voltage for the battery system through the advanced vehicle management system so that instead of just escaping as heat, electricity is created. 


The interesting part of this particular scenario is that when you are just barely rolling in traffic, your car's vehicle management system also thinks your car is an a "slow-down" mode so that you actually keep throwing a charge into your car's battery so it's better to just roll along in traffic at a slow speed, rather than running up to the car ahead and then slamming on the brakes. 


Hybrid systems hold a great deal for the near future when it comes to our dependency on foreign oil and carbon footprint. For starters, when they are operating in battery mode, there is no carbon footprint, while when you are accelerating the smaller engine operates near its engineering limits so that its heat transfer and energy creation footprint are also more in line with what happens as smaller engines operate more efficiently. This is a fancy way of putting it that the engine's overall footprint better. 


Equally important, though, if a hybrid is able to obtain 45 or 50 mpg overall, that's using a lot less gasoline used than the more traditionally sized vehicle with the four- or six-cylinder engine that constantly operates in the 30 to 35 mpg range hour after hour. Or to put it another way, you are increasing your fuel use a minimum of between 70-cents and $1.00 a gallon or more. That's quite a savings, isn't it? And, with fuelflation hitting again as the cost of gas creeps up, that's money in your pocket. 


Yes, it can be argued that for a given size car a four- or six-cylinder engine of the same size will achieve better overall mpg on acceleration and at other times, but like the legend or the tortoise and the hare, the hare may have won the race hands down, but the turtle had money left in the bank. 

Leave a Reply