Hybrid cars were once confined to Hollywood, science-fiction fans and those annual predictions for the future every media outlet insists on publishing around New Year.
But since 2004, when four key car manufacturers produced the first commercially available eco cars, the rise of the hybrid has been swift and impressively far reaching.
By 2008 there were more then 20 versions of the hybrid car available and companies like ~Honda revolutionised the sector, turning environmentally-friendly motoring into a hugely popular and commercially viable market.
Generally speaking consumers are now comfortable with the idea of hybrid technology, and electric motors working in tandem with petrol or diesel engines and regenerative braking are now a common consideration when purchasing a new car.
However, just as the world becomes acquainted with hybrid cars, there are a whole host of new technologies that will change them forever. Prototypes and experimental systems are constantly in production and flights of fancy that were a mere sparkle in manufacturers eyes a few years ago are now ready to take the hybrid market by storm.
Many of these technologies are already being used in hybrid cars across the country but compared to the benefits of those mentioned above, many people know very little about them and how they will shape the cars of the future.
Whatever the technology, by its very definition a hybrid will combine two sources of power to be more eco-friendly and increase fuel economy. Here are the next generation technologies that will have us driving green.
A two-mode hybrid has a two speed (low and high) electric variable transmission (EVT) and four fixed-gear ratios for handling and better efficiency. The vehicle will shut off when it isn’t moving (similar to some hybrids on the market today), the batteries are charged when braking and the car is powered by the electric motor, the engine or indeed a bit of both.
The fuel economy of a two-mode hybrid isn’t just impressive on the daily commute however, and it really sets itself apart when you consider its efficiency during long trips.
The Hydraulic Launch Assist (HLA) system is perfect for larger commercial vehicles and is similar to the traditional petrol/diesel-electric hybrid car. It catches some of the energy usually lost by braking and using pistons to recover the wasted energy it then compresses nitrogen gas stored in a nearby tank, helping the engine to power the rear wheels.
The huge advances made in battery technology have led to a reimagining of the plug-in electric car. This new generation of hybrid can achieve 40 miles in all-electric mode, meaning they’re perfect for commuters and people who travel short distances in towns or cities.
Recharging the battery overnight is easy and cheap and would significantly reduce costs associated with owning a vehicle. If the driver needs to go further then you can either charge up at one of the many charge points being implemented all over Britain at the moment, or just let the car slip seamlessly into hybrid mode until you reach your destination.