Different hybrid Configurations and how they affect your fuel Economy

As we earlier mentioned a hybrid is a vehicle with two or more power sources. In most hybrid, the dual power sources are a traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) and an electric motor. However, the way that the two sources combine to power the car is what forms the three different hybrid configuration. They are the Parallel, Series and Series-Parallel hybrid configuration.

Series Configuration Hybrid

In this configuration, the vehicle is driven by the electric motor alone. The combustion engine is not directly connected to the transmission. It runs the generator that both charges a battery and powers an electric motor.

Series hybrids perform at their best in stop-and-go town traffic, where gasoline and diesel engines are inefficient. Since the engine operates a constant load, it is quite efficient. They however have a challenge maintaining efficiency once the battery power is depleted. They are also known as extended-range electric vehicles (EREVs) or range-extended electric vehicles (REEVs).

In these hybrids, the engine is typically smaller because it only has to meet certain power demands. Also the battery pack is generally more powerful than the one in parallel hybrids in order to provide the power needs. This larger battery and motor, along with the generator, add to the vehicle’s cost. This makes series hybrids more expensive than parallel hybrids.

Examples include the Chevrolet Volt.

Parallel Hybrid Configuration.

In this configuration, primary power comes from a normal combustion engine. However, it is directly aided by an electric motor fitted between the engine block and gearbox.

The electric motor has to squeeze into a small space in the engine bay between engine and gearbox. This limit the amount of power it can provide and the range of the vehicle when operating in all-electric, or EV, mode. For this reason, a parallel mild hybrid can never drive in pure electric mode. The electric motor turns on only when a boost is needed.

Since the engine is connected directly to the wheels in parallel drive trains, the inefficiency of converting mechanical power to electricity and back is eliminated. This increases the efficiency of these hybrids on the highway.

There is no separate generator in a parallel hybrid. Whenever the generator’s operation is needed, the motor functions as generator.

Examples of parallel configuration hybrids in the Kenyan market are Honda insight, accord, and fit.

Series-Parallel Hybrid Configuration

In this hybrid configuration, the battery-powered electric motor and the petrol-driven combustion engine are entirely separate from one another. Either of them can power the car on their own, or the power from both units can be combined.

Power distribution between the engine and motor is designed so that the engine can run in its optimum operating range as much as possible. They are therefore efficient on both town and highway. Examples of vehicles in the Kenyan market with combined series-parallel configuration; Lexus RX 450h, Toyota Aqua, Toyota Prius, Toyota Crown, and Toyota Camry

In conclusion, before making that hybrid purchase, confirm the type of hybrid configuration the car has and compare it with the use you intend to put your vehicle to and determine if the hybrid system will benefit you. You can always contact us for more information on hybrid