How Do Hybrid Cars Work?
Anyone shopping for a new car, even casually, eventually stumbles upon a relatively new type of vehicle and wonders, “How do hybrid cars work?” Everyone is aware of the efficiency, yet few understand the concept and mechanical layout. We are hoping to change that today.
Best of Both WorldsA hybrid, in plants and animals, is a quick shortcut across genetics. Cross-pollinate two different plant varieties, grow the resulting seed, and you have a hybrid. Mate a male lion and a tigress and you get a hybrid, the liger. How hybrid cars work involves much less biology, and may be easier to follow.
A hybrid vehicle, like the all-new 2017 Malibu Hybrid, combines a gasoline or diesel engine with an electric motor and battery. By building a hybrid, Chevrolet mixes the best qualities of both power sources. Gasoline or diesel engines provide great acceleration and strong pulling power. Electric motors and batteries provide smooth power over long distances. Combine the two in a hybrid and you get excellent fuel efficiency. In the case of the sporty, attractive Malibu Hybrid, you cannot even plug in the electric motor. The electric motor’s sole purpose is to stretch every mile from every drop of gasoline. The Malibu hybrid shares the same two electric motors, transmission and regenerative braking system as the 2017 Chevy Volt. These all work to capture and capitalize on the power created by the gasoline-burning engine.
You start the car using the gasoline engine, get up to speed powered by the high energy-to-work ratio of the gasoline, and then cruise in electric mode, all automatically. No switches, no thinking needed to decide how best to deal with a driving situation. The Malibu hybrid just “knows” what to do at the right time.
A hybrid allows for optimal fuel efficiency, since the engine senses when the electric motors and battery pack can take over. You get 49 miles per gallon in city driving and 43 for highway driving. These are not our numbers; they are from the U.S. Department of Energy, which also measured a combined 46 mpg.
Under the Malibu’s hood (and trunk) is a 1.8-liter, in-line, four-cylinder, 122-HP engine paired with the Volt’s twin electric motors, giving a total system output of 182 horsepower. The battery pack nestles under the back and down the middle. You can go from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, which means you never have to worry about a slow response from electric motors as you merge into traffic.
As you put the brakes on approaching a stop, the 2017 Malibu hybrid captures some of that kinetic energy (that normally turns to waste heat on your brake pads) and turns it into electricity stored in the batteries. The brakes are regenerating the batteries, saving you money and wringing more mileage from your gas tank.
The octopus has three hearts to power through the seas. The Malibu has three hearts, too:
- Gasoline engine
- Twin electric motors
A Day’s Drive
You start the car with the gasoline engine in the morning. You cruise around town, pulling up to lights, merging onto highways, never once thinking about turning the gasoline engine off and starting the electric motor. The Malibu thinks about it, a lot:
- Start with the gasoline engine
- At the stop sign, the engine turns off and the electric motor powers air conditioning, radio and everything else
- At the green light, the electric motor will get you going or, if you need more power, the gasoline engine turns on and away you go
Your Valley Chevy Dealers
To learn all there is to know about hybrids, stop by your nearest Valley Chevy dealer today. Test drive the 2017 Malibu Hybrid. Find out just how intelligent a car can be.