2006-02-27

Hybrid Thinking

Just a thought (and no link).

I just watched a bit on the news about another proposal for hybrids to be allowed in HOV lanes on Long Island w/o the normal high-occupancy since they are more fuel efficient.

Since hybrids are most miserly during city driving b/c stop-and-go engages the regenerative braking that recharges the batteries, wouldn't it make more sense to BAN hybrids from HOV lanes during peak periods (even if they have 2+ or 3+ occupants) to ensure that they experience as MUCH congestion as possible so that they get better mileage?

5 comments:

Jennifer said...

I'm not sure what the stop-and-go egagement thing is that you're referring to. When I drive the hybrid, it's powered from the electric charge as soon as I let off the brake (or at least, it appears to be the case). I do know that in stop/go traffic, if you come to a complete stop, the engine shuts off entirely. Is that what you're referring to with the regenerative braking?

Breedo said...

That would make sense if the majority (or even a quarter) of the cars on the road were hybrids. Then the efficiency would add up and there'd be a significant difference. But the hybrids haven't caught on enough yet to make your notion really worth while. The HOV idea might just spur some people to buy one. Just think how pissed off people would be seeing a single occupancy vehicle flying down the HOV lane and not getting pulled over. Some people will buy a car just for that priveledge. Then again, I wonder how much money will come in from people in single occupancy, non-hybrid cars chasing after the hybrid drivers in the HOV lane and getting pulled over...LOL.

Robert said...

Regenerative braking is the proces of harnessing some of the energy from the braking (and, I am told, deceleration, too) process that would normally be lost as heat.

A little research on my part also reveals that the Honda and Toyota hybrids are different enough technically that the Honda gets about 1 MPH better on highway than in the city while the Toyota does 5-10 mph better in the city (that knowledge is the genesis of my point.)

My understanding of hybrids is also that over a certain highway speed the gas motor must kick in to supplement the power of the electric motor.

Please enlighten.

Jennifer said...

I haven't driven a Toyota hybrid so I can't speak to that, but what you say about highway driving clicks with what I've experienced. Of course, I understand little about mechanics above the rudimentary level of inclined plane, screw, and pulley. Add to that my natural tendencies to ride the gas whenever there is open highway in front of me, and most times when there isn't, perhaps I'm not best suited to speak to the gas-powered issues of a hybrid on the highway.

Zoltan said...

The electric motor in Honda hybrids is sandwiched between the gas engine and the transmission, so the two are always running at the same time (both turn off when you stop). The motor allows you to get a more powerful car while still using a dinky engine that uses little gas. Think of this as a serial connection.

The motor in Toyota hybrids is connected to the transmission in parallel with the engine, so either or both can run at the same time. This allows you to drive around town using only the electric motor so you get better city mileage, and the engine kicks in when you want go faster and/or accelerate quickly.

I think the original goal of HOV lanes was to reduce smog by reducing emissions by getting cars off the road. Hybrids have cleaner emissions than do conventional cars, so one person in one hybrid is (I guess) equivalent to two people carpooling in a conventional car, from an emissions perspective.