Electric Cars – A Guide to Terminology
Are you confused about the types of electric cars that are on the market today? We will briefly examine the three major types and give you a clear cut understanding of the differences between the models. When you finish you will know the difference between a “Hybrid”, an “EV” and a “Plug-in.”
The “Hybrid” part of Hybrid cars comes from the fact that they use both gas engines and electric motors for power. Most of the major car makers offer a Hybrid model and Hybrids have been on the market over a decade now. The Toyota Prius was the first popular Hybrid and is often referred to as typical of the breed.
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Review of 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid
The stereotype of hybrid cars is slowly becoming obsolete as more vehicles are offered with hybrid options. With the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid, consumers can now purchase a full-sized CUV with real towing capacity while enjoying the improved gas mileage offered by hybrid vehicles. Sure, you won’t approach the MPG numbers of smaller hybrid vehicles, but you’ll you’ll have a real advantage over gas-powered large vehicles.
I traveled to Nashville and had the opportunity to drive the new Pathfinder Hybrid and came away impressed. When driving the vehicle it feels very much like the gas-powered version. The Hybrid was designed to introduce the new hybrid powertrain system to enhance fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions but with no reduction of driving performance, passenger roominess or cargo capacity. The designers used a space-saving Li-ion battery fitted under the 3rd row seat which preserved Pathfinder’s 2nd row sliding functionality and easy access to the 3rd row. You get all of the roominess and comforts of the new Pathfinder without making sacrifices for the hybrid technology.
The Pathfinder’s standard 3.5-liter V6 is replaced in the Hybrid by a new supercharged 2.5-liter gasoline engine and an electric motor paired with a compact Lithium-ion battery. The 15 kW electric motor and gas engine were designed to work in tandem to provide performance similar to the conventional Pathfinder. The Hybrid system is rated at 250 net horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque while the 3.5-liter V6 has 260 horsepower and 240 lb-ft of torque. These similar numbers are evident in the driving experience when you compare both vehicles.
The result, however, is improved fuel economy as the Hybrid is rated at 26 MPG combined (25 city and 28 highway), an increase of 24 percent over the standard Pathfinder. Like the gas model, the Pathfinder Hybrid has a large 19.5-gallon fuel tank for a highway driving range estimated at more than 546 miles. These MPG numbers won’t challenge smaller vehicles but have to be evaluated in light of the size and performance of this vehicle. For example, the hybrid can tow up to 3500 pounds when properly equipped which is less than the gas-powered Pathfinder’s 5000-pound towing capacity but is still very useful.
Like all hybrids the Pathfinder has a regenerative braking system that automatically recharges the battery by converting the vehicle’s kinetic energy that would be otherwise lost in braking. Still, I would have liked to see more features in the dashboard gauges showing me how well I was using this system and the electric motor as these features are a big selling point in other hybrids.
The Pathfinder Hybrid offers an appealing option for consumers looking for a large vehicle, as now you can get all the benefits without being stuck with a gas guzzler. Take it for a test drive and you’ll see immediately that you’re not sacrificing performance or comfort for the gas mileage boost.
Posted in: Green Cars, Green Lifestyle, Green Products, Renewable Energy
Tags: 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid, alternative fuel vehicles, CO2 emissions, CUV, CUV hybrids, fuel economy, fuel efficient cars, green car reviews, green cars, Hybrid Cars, kinetic energy, Lithium-ion battery, Nissan, regenerative braking system
Honda Accord Hybrid gets good reviews
The market for hybrids is heating up as more popular nameplates are getting hybrid versions. The Honda Accord has been one of the most popular four-door sedans for decades, and with this hybrid version it will get plenty of attention in the marketplace.
The reviews have been very positive. Bullz-Eye.com was impressed with the fuel mileage and hybrid engine features:
I drove the Accord Hybrid on a wide variety of roads and found the vehicle to be very responsive. In one of the city setting we were challenged to try to get the highest gas mileage along a prepared route. Once you get the hang of how the Hybrid works you can achieve some very impressive mileage numbers in slow traffic areas.
The Accord Hybrid achieves impressive fuel economy ratings with 50 MPG city, 45 MPG highway and 47 MPG combined by using a two-motor hybrid system called Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) that continuously cycles between three different modes (EV drive, hybrid drive and engine drive) to maximize fuel efficiency. The gas engine powers a generator in most driving conditions which then provides energy to charge the hybrid battery and/or for the electric motor to power the wheels. The i-MMD can also operate on gasoline engine power only, usually during medium- to high-speed cruising.
The folks at Edmunds noted that Honda made the correct choice this time to focus on fuel economy over performance:
The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid is EPA rated at 50 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway. More importantly, the combined rating is 47 mpg, and Honda’s new two-motor hybrid system (introduced last year with the Accord Plug-In Hybrid) aims to deliver those numbers to all but the incurably lead-footed.
Hybrids are becoming more sophisticated as pointed out by Autoblog:
So, let’s start there, with the powertrain. It’s a complicated mess to understand if you’re not a Honda engineer (and maybe even then), but it’s a complicated mess that works well.
You can also choose the plug-in hybrid model as well with the Accord, so we definitely have a new entry that will give consumers even more choices in this market. It’s clear you no longer have to sacrifice styling and comfort if you’re looking to be green or just save on gas costs.
Posted in: Green Cars, Green Lifestyle, Green Products, Renewable Energy
Tags: alternative fuel vehicles, fuel efficient cars, green car reviews, Honda Accord Hybrid, Honda hybrids, Hybrid Cars, hybrid reviews, plug-in hybrid, save on gas costs
5 Common Misconceptions About Hybrid Cars
Even as hybrid vehicles increase in popularity, many drivers remain misinformed about the pros and cons of driving a hybrid. Here is a look at some of the most common myths and misconceptions.
Hybrids Are Electric Cars
Hybrid cars have electric engines under the hood, right alongside their gasoline combustion engines. This is why we use the term “hybrid.” Most of the waste and smog generated by a combustion engine is due to stop and go city traffic. Idling, braking and accelerating all waste fuel. Hybrids overcome this problem by using an electric engine at speeds below around 25 miles per hour, and never idling. When travelling on the highway at higher and more consistent speeds, hybrids use their gasoline combustion engines. The electric engine is reserved for passing and quick acceleration.
Hybrids Are Too Small or Too Slow
Because hybrids are powered by regular gasoline engines, with the addition of an electric motor, many models offer more power than their traditional counterparts. Like traditional vehicles, the most affordable hybrids are compact and lack muscle. In addition to those economy models, an increasing number of luxury sedans and heavy pickup trucks are available. Watch for the Mitsubishi Pajero to join the Cadillac Escalade and Chevy Tahoe in the hybrid SUV fray, perhaps as soon as next year. Porsche is producing high performance hybrids for competition as well as for the consumer market.
Hybrids Are Too Expensive
We all know by now that hybrid drivers save money on gasoline, but many drivers consider the initial cost of a hybrid to be too high. Like most new technology, hybrids were expensive when they first hit the market. Now that hybrids are entering the mainstream and competition among car makers is increasing, hybrids are becoming more affordable every year. Hybrids have also become more affordable to maintain. More mechanics are prepared to work on them, and replacement parts have become more widely available.
The Battery Will Not Last
This myth is easy for drivers to believe, particularly if they have ever owned a laptop that was several years old. Unlike laptops, mobile phones and most other rechargeable electronics, a hybrid car never fully charges its battery. By maintaining a maximum charge of around 50%, hybrid engineers have ensured that their batteries will have a long life cycle. Normally, the warranty on a hybrid battery is good for 80,000 to 100,000 miles. Batteries tested up to 160,000 miles have performed like new.
All Hybrids Need to Be Plugged in
Some hybrid models must be plugged in to charge. Others charge their batteries using technology called regenerative braking. When the driver brakes, kinetic energy that would be wasted in a traditional vehicle is captured by the electric motor, and stored in the battery. Many hybrids use a combination of both methods.