Hybrid vehicles are selling like hot cakes and everyone is wondering where this will lead. Will hybrid technology evolve as fast as computers did, so that every 18 months the latest model is twice as efficient as the previous model?
Unlike the evolution of computers, there is a kind of roadmap for the journey ahead of hybrid car and truck owners. The current hybrids available from Toyota, Ford, Chevy, GMC, Honda, and others are designated as HEV vehicles, which stands for “Hybrid Electric Vehicle.” This technology uses an internal combustion engine and an electric drive train. At city speeds, the HEV runs primarily on electrical power, reserving expensive gasoline power for highway speeds. Electric batteries recharge by capturing energy that is normally wasted during braking and idling. So what could be better than that?
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) will do everything their predecessors do, but will be able to travel further on electric power alone and will be equipped with a plug-in battery charger for use at night when electricity rates are low. lower. It has been estimated that if all American vehicles were replaced by PHEVs today, national oil consumption would be reduced by 70 to 90 percent tomorrow. This happy scenario would make the United States completely self-sufficient to supply its own oil needs.
The other good news about PHEVs is that even if they were all recharged at night by a coal-fired power plant, the CO2 emissions involved would be half what they are today for standard gasoline and diesel engines.
Aftermarket conversion kits are now in the works for the DIY types that can’t wait for the factory version.
Automakers are already working on this next step and DaimlerChrysler has built a PHEV prototype of its Dodge Sprinter cargo van.
How much gas will you save with your new hybrid vehicle? If you drive 18,000 miles per year, you can use 600 gallons with a conventional vehicle, 400 gallons with a HEV, and 80 gallons with a PHEV.
But the evolution of the automobile does not stop here. Eventually, the PHEV will give way to the PHEV with hydrogen fuel cells and batteries. This will then give way to the PHEV with fuel cells that do most of the work, without consuming more of the batteries. This will be overshadowed by the plug-in hydrogen fuel cell vehicle that no longer has a gasoline engine.
HEV – Hybrid Electric Vehicle
PHEV: Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle
PHEV-RFC: PHEV with regenerative hydrogen fuel cells
RFCV: Regenerative hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will not have a gas engine
The PHEV-RFC and RFCV systems will be connected for nightly recharging, which will use electrical energy from the grid to divide the water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen fuel cell will be recharged with this homemade hydrogen, eliminating the need for hydrogen fueling stations. At this point in the evolution of the automobile, the vehicle itself will no longer pollute.