Hybrid Cars by Design

Hybrid car on road

How vehicle design plays a critical role in maximizing hybrid car efficiencies

Hybrid cars are some of the most fuel efficient cars on the road today due in large part to how their engines operate. From a mechanical perspective, hybrid cars use two or more power sources to put the vehicle in motion — power sources that collectively yield lower emissions and increased fuel economy at the same time. But are these factors the only factors that make a hybrid car more fuel efficient? It turns out vehicle design also plays a critical role in maximizing hybrid car efficiencies.

Smaller Engines, Lightweight Materials

In the case of a gas-electric hybrid, two power sources are used. Because it doesn't rely solely on its gasoline engine for power, a hybrid car's engine can be smaller in size. This is important not only because smaller engines use less energy, they're more efficient than larger ones. Cars with bigger, heavier motors require more power to move and expend more gas doing so. Additionally, most hybrid car engines are built with lightweight materials that help improve fuel efficiency even further.

Reduced Drag

For the most part, hybrid cars are smaller, boasting aerodynamic designs that enable them to move through the air with less drag and ultimately, less energy. Conversely, high profile, boxy vehicles such as vans and SUVs, are less aerodynamic due to their stature and design. In turn, their engines exert additional energy for motion and braking compared to smaller, more aerodynamic cars like hybrids.

Efficient Tires

Many hybrids on the market today come equipped with tires that are stiffer and more inflated, resulting in decreased drag resistance when it comes to forward motion. In turn, hybrid engines require less power and ultimately, less fuel to generate that power.

Regenerative Braking

When you hit the brakes in a conventional car, energy is lost in the form of dissipated heat. In other words, conventional cars lose energy when braking. However, many hybrid cars use Regenerative Braking technology that allows the motor to capture energy traditionally lost in braking, and to use that energy to recharge its batteries. Not only does the electric motor kick in to help decelerate the car when the brakes are used, it recharges the batteries when the car is slowing.

In hybrid cars and conventional cars alike, design plays a crucial role in the fuel efficiency of a vehicle. From aerodynamic body components to the size and weight of engine parts, how a vehicle is designed is almost as important (if not equally important) as the way in which its engine operates.

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