Wednesday, November 19, 2008
image of Prius (one of Toyota's top sellers in the United States). There are over 1 million worldwide
An electric car is a type of alternative fuel car that utilizes electric motors and motor controllers instead of an internal combustion engine (ICE). The electric power is usually derived from battery packs in the vehicle.
In general terms an electric car is a rechargeable battery electric vehicle. Other examples of rechargeable electric vehicles are ones that store electricity in ultracapacitors, or in a flywheel.
Vehicles using both electric motors and other types of engine are known as hybrid electric vehicles and are not considered pure electric vehicles (EVs) because they operate in a charge-sustaining mode. Hybrid vehicles with batteries that can be charged externally to displace are called plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV), and are pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) during their charge-depleting mode. Electric vehicles include automobiles, light trucks, and neighborhood electric vehicles.
A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) is a hybrid vehicle which combines a conventional propulsion system with a rechargeable energy storage system (RESS) to achieve better fuel economy than a conventional vehicle. It includes a propulsion system additional to the electric motors, to be not hampered by range from a charging unit like a battery electric vehicle (BEV).
Modern mass-produced HEVs prolong the charge on their batteries by capturing kinetic energy via regenerative braking, and some HEVs can use the internal combustion engine (ICE) to generate electricity by spinning an electrical generator (often a motor-generator) to either recharge the battery or directly feed power to an electric motor that drives the vehicle. Many HEVs reduce idle emissions by shutting down the ICE at idle and restarting it when needed (start-stop system). An HEV's engine is smaller than a non-hybrid petroleum fuel vehicle and may be run at various speeds, providing more efficiency.
HEVs became widely available to the public in the late 1990s with the introduction of the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius. HEVs are viewed by some automakers as a core segment of the future automotive market. Futurist magazine recently included hybrid electric vehicles as cars of the near future.