Tuesday, August 16, 2005

250 MPG Hybrid?

Of course not. But through some technological wizardry, it looks that way. In this story from CNN.

The idea is that you add batteries to your Hybrid vehicle, making your electrical gas tank bigger. The wizardry is that you plug the thing in at night to "pre charge" the batteries. So, for the first few miles of driving, the car doesn't have to rely as much on the gas engine. Thus 250 miles per gallon.

To address an innaccuracy:
Like all hybrids, his Prius increases fuel efficiency by harnessing small amounts of electricity generated during braking and coasting.
That's not what makes it a hybrid! First, it doesn't regenerate electricity during coasting, because you want it to coast. A car "going" without adding energy is a) very temporary and b) far more efficient than anything else. Second, regenerative braking is only 10-20% of the Hybrid's power savings. What makes it a hybrid is that it has a gas motor and an electric motor. That is more efficient (even after carrying around all those batteries and motors) because gasoline/diesel engines are actually quite efficient- *if* they are operated within a fairly narrow RPM range, and don't deiviate much from that. Electric motors are quite efficient at accelerating, and don't need to idle. Combine those two advantages, and you've got a hybrid.

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