HYBRID AND ELECTRIC CARS

   More than half of the oil production in the world is used for transportation and it is a well-known fact that car exhausts contribute largely to global warming. This is because they pollute the air with CO2. Even more so, we are slowly but surely running out of oil. This is why lately all efforts are directed towards making of hybrid and electric cars. A hybrid car has two sources of power – an engine that runs on diesel or another type of gasoline and an electric battery. It depends on the manufacturer but also on the make and model of the car if the two motors work simultaneously to power the car. In some cases it can use only the electric battery. Usually the electric motor is sufficient to power the car if it is driven at a very slow speed (around 30 km/h for some models). The battery can be directly plugged in the electrical grid but it also recharges when the car stops. Hybrid cars are completely silent when running on electricity which can sometimes be seen as a disadvantage – they can become a threat to pedestrians and cyclists.

   An electric car is a car that uses the power from one or more electric motors which on their part receive their power from rechargeable batteries. Electric cars were built and produced as early as 1884 and there was a great number of them in the beginning of the 20th century along with cars powered by steam and gasoline. However, it was not until the late 2000’s that the point of interest shifted again towards the advantages of electric automobiles. The cost of fuel as well as concern of increasing air pollution have played an important role into tipping the scales in favour of electric-powered cars. Nowadays, almost all major car producing companies have an electric car model in their catalogues. Some of those cars have a hydrogen fuel cell. This means that the auto does not have a gasoline motor but a fuel cell that uses oxygen from the air and compressed hydrogen to generate electricity. Other ones have batteries that recharge during driving, although those are generally small one-person cars. A very interesting vehicle is the Ventury Astrolab – it does not have an engine or a fuel cell; it is covered with solar panels that are able to absorb energy from the sun. The energy is then stored in batteries and the car can reach a top speed of 120km/h. But this is just a fraction of what Tesla Roadster can do. A sport car with an electric engine so powerful that it can reach a top speed of 200km/h, it can go from 0 to 100km/h in just 3,9 seconds! At the same time, another Tesla modification – Tesla S P85D is the first car ever to get a perfect score in ‘Consumer Reports’ magazine.

   It is more than obvious that hybrid and electric cars have their own disadvantages as well – price, the fact that they do not have a very big travelling range, there are not too many charging stations yet (apart from your own home, of course), batteries that need to be changed and disposed of. However, it is more than certain  – those types of automobiles are the future. We see them more often on the streets and if we add to that Formula E – the ‘electric’ equivalent of F1 or the World Solar Challenge – the racing championship for solar-powered cars – well, the future has already arrived!

GALLERY

 

 

GLOSSARY

pedestrian – a person who is going on foot; who is walking

electrical grid – the network that delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers

rechargeable – capable of being charged repeatedly

fuel cell –  a device that generates electricity by a chemical reaction

hydrogen – the lightest chemical element, highly flammable gas

vehicle – something used to carry goods or passengers, means of transportation

 

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