The global automotive industry is keenly aware of the pressure of the two modern trends – constant growing of the fuel cost and more stringent environmental requirements for the exhaust gas. These powerful trends have generated a nonstop rise in oil prices and the looming threat of the climate change of the world, namely global warming. In this regard, all automakers, including the American ones, have begun to actively seek a solution to environmental and economic problems. They have tried to make an efficient vehicle that will not burn expensive fossil fuels and, therefore, will not pollute the environment.
Most forms of vehicles have one or another type of engine. In most cases, it is either diesel, internal combustion engine, electric motor, or turbojet engine. Electric motor is better than many other engines in its characteristics. It is more resistant to variable loads and does not require a complex transmission system. Besides, its motor efficiency is significantly higher and cheaper than that of other engines. On the one hand, electric motor is a real boon, but electricity is a very expensive source of energy for a vehicle. Therefore, there is only one solution: to make electric motor an auxiliary element. In fact, this solution has marked the beginning of production of hybrid vehicles of different categories and appeal to alternative fuels. Current paper discusses hybrid vehicles, preconditions of the creation of hybrid technology, and advantages and disadvantages of using hybrid vehicles, as well as proposes several ways of stimulating purchase of the hybrid vehicle.
Hybrid vehicle is a highly fuel-efficient car driven by a system of “electric motor – internal combustion engine”, which is fed by both fuel and electric charge of the battery. The main advantage of a hybrid vehicle is reduction of fuel consumption and emissions. This is achieved by the full automatic control mode of propulsion systems using the onboard computer. This process is ranging from the timely shutdown of the engine during a stop in traffic with the ability to continue movement without starting the engine and using solely the battery power to a more complex mechanism of recuperation, namely use of the motor as an electric generator for replenishment of the battery charge (Carmichael 12).
Generally, hybrid is an organism obtained as a result of crossbreeding of genetically different parental forms. In case of vehicles, genetically different forms are the internal combustion engine (ICE) and the electric motor. Moreover, hybridization seems to be the only option for survival of the ICE in the modern autoselection. On the one hand, the price of oil reaches new heights with each passing day, which inevitably brings closer the end of the glorious history of the ICE (environmental regulations work in the same direction). On the other hand, the lack of the ways to store electrical energy compactly and for a long time calls into question the future of electric vehicles in their genetically pure form (Carmichael 13).
Brief History of the Hybrid Vehicle Development
Lohner-Porsche is considered to be the first car with a hybrid drive. The car was designed by designer Ferdinand Porsche in 1900 – 1901 years (Prentiss 199). In the United States, Victor Wouk was the first who began to develop hybrid cars in the 60s – 70s (Carmichael 56). In 1980, Volvo conducted experiments with the flywheel, which was accelerated by the diesel engine and used for recovery of braking energy. Subsequently, the project was abandoned in favor of hydraulic accumulators. The first automaker of the hybrid vehicle was a Japanese corporation Toyota, which started to work in this direction in 1997 (Carmichael 63).
During the creation of a hybrid commercial vehicle, designers had to look for difficult decisions in order to save parameters of an ordinary car: power, speed, acceleration, payload, and payload volume. Their implementation became possible only in the present conditions of high-tech production with the use of powerful on-board computers.
Preconditions of the Creation of Hybrid Technology
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Air, water, and soil are necessary for existence of all living beings. Therefore, their pollution can cause illnesses or even death. Contaminated water causes death of fish and other aquatic creatures. Contaminated soil cannot produce food products. In addition, environmental pollution spoils natural beauty of the planet. Therefore, environmental pollution is a very difficult and serious problem. Vehicles pollute the air, but they serve for easy movement of people. People would have to stop using vehicles if they wanted to immediately stop environmental pollution. Certainly, most people would not agree to such a way out. However, environmental pollution can be reduced in a gradual way.
Thus, the main reason behind the development of the hybrid technology is reducing the amount of harmful emissions into the atmosphere, which is very important, especially for urban transport. This system allows to reduce emission of soot and hydrocarbons by 90% and nitrogen oxides by 50% (Gallagher and Muehlegger 3). At the same time, fuel economy reaches 60% compared with ordinary vehicles equipped with diesel engines and acceleration at the beginning of movement is increased by 50% (Hawkins, Gausen, and Strømman 1006). This kind of system can be installed in various vehicles that perform a variety of tasks. Therefore, the hybrid technology makes sense since it enhances ecological compatibility of vehicles.
Energy efficiency as a way to improve environmental safety of vehicles. Access to clean and efficient energy is the key to well-being, safety, health, and quality of life for every country in the world. Revolution in the field of clean energy should be accompanied by fundamental changes that are comparable to those observed during the energy revolution in the period from 1850 to 1920, i.e. at the time when coal came to replace traditional energy sources (Prentiss 197-198). Radical changes need to happen in the nearest future and hybrid technology is a serious step towards these changes.
Currently, the transport sector’s share in the global final energy consumption is more than 25% and this figure is growing each year. At the same time, about 80% of energy consumption in the transport sector accounts for road transport, which almost completely works on the basis of oil used in internal combustion engines (Gallagher and Muehlegger 5-6). Increase of fuel efficiency and improvement of environmental performance of vehicles are tools that will improve energy efficiency and conservation throughout the industry.
Modern vehicles have high levels of fuel efficiency, environmental impact, and, as a result, energy efficiency. However, full effect of these qualities is achieved only in the uniform motion albeit in a relatively wide range of speeds and loads. Conditions for a long-term motion with constant velocity are available only on country roads or motorways.
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Fuel-economic and environmental performance of a standard vehicle significantly decreases when driving with a low speed and driving in the city, which is characterized by a constant phase sequence of acceleration, short uniform motion, deceleration, and stopping with the idling engine (at traffic lights, in front of the crosswalk, or in a traffic jam). There are several reasons for these decreases: for example, insufficient use of the potential power of the engine when driving in a city with limited speed so that the engine runs with increased unit costs; constant expenses on accumulation of kinetic energy, which is then translated into heat in a short period of time and is lost in the phase of deceleration of the vehicle (Gallagher and Muehlegger 8). The solution of these problems is creation of hybrid vehicles.
Energy efficiency of the hybrid vehicle is due to its management system and control algorithms primarily. The urgency of developing the hybrid vehicle with the algorithms of interaction of basic elements that ensure improvement of their overall energy efficiency is determined by achieving higher levels of energy saving and environmentally-friendly vehicles that will significantly improve energy efficiency and energy conservation of relevant sectors of the economy (Gallagher and Muehlegger 15).
It is necessary to understand that hybrid vehicle and electric vehicle are the only worthy alternatives to the standard vehicle at the present time. This statement is confirmed by the growing sale of hybrids and electric vehicles worldwide. The most purchased hybrid vehicles in the world market are hybrid vehicles of the Toyota Motor Corporation. At the beginning of 2014, sales of hybrid models of Toyota and Lexus exceeded 7 million vehicles. In 2012, the world sold approximately 1.3 million of full hybrid models of Toyota and Lexus. Today, the share of hybrid cars accounts for about 15% of the Toyota Company’s sales in the world and this number is constantly increasing (Voelcker).
According to the Toyota Motor Corporation, hybrid cars allowed the company to reduce carbon dioxide .emissions by 41 million tons compared to conventional cars at the beginning of 2014. The company’s specialists have estimated that exploitation of hybrid Toyota and Lexus vehicles has resulted in saving of 15 billion liters of gasoline compared to the similar class vehicles with gasoline engines (Voelcker).
Advantages of the Hybrid Vehicles
Cost-effective exploitation is the main advantage of the hybrids. It was necessary to find a balance in order achieve it, namely to balance all technical indicators of the vehicle, but keep all useful properties of a vehicle: power, speed, ability to rapid acceleration, and many other important characteristics embodied in modern cars. Moreover, the ability to store energy and charge batteries using the kinetic energy of motion during braking brought some side “small pleasures” in addition to basic obvious advantages, for example, less wear of the brake pads (Vlasic and Bunkley).
The cost-effectiveness has been achieved by:
- Reduction of the volume and power of engine;
- Engine running in an optimal and uniform mode with a much lesser dependence on driving conditions;
- Full stop of the engine when it is needed;
- The possibility of movement using electric motors only;
- Regenerative braking with the battery charge.
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The whole system is complex to such an extent that it has become possible only in modern conditions, using sufficiently complicated operation algorithms of the onboard computer. Even correct and effective (in terms of safety) braking is controlled by the onboard computer.
As it has already been mentioned, ecological purity was the main precondition to create the hybrid technology. Reduction in the consumption of carbon-based fuels immediately influenced the environmental purity. Full stop of engines in places with large concentrations of vehicles, especially in traffic jams, has the primary role. The use of batteries, which have much smaller capacity than electric vehicle batteries, has reduced the problem of disposal of the used batteries (Hawkins, Gausen, and Strømman 1003). Development of the hybrid technology for the public transport and trucks will improve the environment of cities even more.
Good running characteristics
Now, there is no need to install the engine based on the peak load of the operation. Both electrical and conventional engines (and optional electric motors in some models) start to work at the time when one needs a sharp increase of the traction load. This allows to save on the installation of a less powerful internal combustion engine that works in the most favorable mode most of the time. This uniform redistribution and accumulation of power, followed by the rapid use, allows the use of hybrid technology in the sport class cars and the SUVs (Vlasic and Bunkley).
Despite the fact that electric motors have a sufficiently strong torque in recalculation on weight and dimensions of the engine, developers have set not too powerful motors in a number of models, reducing dimensions of motors. At the same time, developers apply the combined torque transmission scheme with a straight mechanical transmission of torque directly from the engine in order to summate the capacities.
Increased range in the mileage. Time is the most valuable resource for a human. Elimination of the half of stoppings at gas stations allows the car owner to have a certain amount of time for other great and important tasks.
Storing and reuse of the energy
Inability to return energy back into the hydrocarbon fuels has been eliminated as the main drawback of the hydrocarbon fuel engine. Engineers have long tried to keep the energy of motion during deceleration for its reuse. For example, they applied special designs with a large flywheel. However, only electrical energy can be saved with minimum losses and maximum cheapness. Batteries and special capacitors are used as storage devices (Vlasic and Bunkley).
Electric vehicles have one big disadvantage, which is the need to charge the battery. It is a long process, which requires a specially equipped charge point. Thus, electric vehicles become unusable for long-term and distant trips.
This shortcoming is eliminated in hybrid vehicles. Fuelling is carried out according to the usual scheme with the conventional hydrocarbon fuel when it is necessary so that further movement can be continued immediately.
Disadvantages of the Hybrid Vehicles
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Hybrid cars are more complex and more expensive than traditional vehicles with internal combustion engines. Complexity and “unconventional” creation of some models entails an increase in the price of vehicles. Accumulator batteries have a small temperature range and are subject to self-discharge. Moreover, they are expensive to repair. The U.S. automotive industry experience shows that mechanics undertake the repair of hybrid vehicles with great reluctance. The U.S. is trying to solve the problem of expensiveness with tax benefits.
Far not all major automakers have been able to create their own hybrid systems. Porsche has abandoned attempts to independent production of the hybrid car. Mitsubishi has not initially tried to create a hybrid car and concentrated all its efforts on the development of electric vehicles. The most successful series development today is the Hybrid Synergy Drive by Toyota.
Thus, hybrid cars have a relatively greater weight; they are more complex and more expensive than traditional vehicles with internal combustion engines. The most promising mechanical hybrids cannot compete with electric hybrids at this stage. The main problem is the inability to create adaptive transmissions capable of operating in a wide range of gear ratios (Trop and Vlasic).
Disposal of batteries
Hybrid vehicles, as well as electric vehicles are susceptible to the battery disposal problem. Apparently, no one has investigated the influence of disposed batteries on the environment. However, it still can be dangerous.
The deficit of rare materials
There are concerns that there will be a deficit of rare materials used in the manufacture of hybrid vehicles. For example, it concerns the deficit of the rare earth element dysprosium, which is used in the production of hi-tech power generating units (Alonso et al. 475). It should be mentioned that 95% of global reserves of rare earth materials are extracted in China. Thus, there is a concern that intra-Chinese consumption of these elements will be equal to the existing volume of extraction in the near term (Hao, Wang and Yi 1360).
Evidently, there are more advantages of the hybrid vehicle use than disadvantages. Therefore, popularization of using hybrid vehicles and ways to achieve it are on the agenda.
The Ways to Stimulate the Hybrid Vehicle Purchase
The idea of environmental awareness is not a priority for residents of most countries, primarily the developing ones. In developed countries, owners of environmentally-friendly cars enjoy support of the state. This support is very diverse in different countries and in different ways, but in general the consumer gets a very good preference and operating conditions of the vehicle. For example, one has to pay eight pounds in order to enter the center of London. The owners of environmentally friendly transport, hybrid and electric vehicles are exempted from this payment. That is why, Lexus RX car was very popular in London: until recently, it was the only SUV in which one could enter the city center free of charge (Ingram).
It is important to consider several factors in terms of promotion of hybrid vehicles. Firstly, the public opinion is very important. It depends on the activity of various social and environmental organizations, which should talk about the effect of the use of a particular vehicle on the environment. Secondly, both car manufacturers and consumers should think about whether the technology used today will allow to preserve the current level of life in 10-20 years and whether they provide further sustainable development. Thirdly, it is government support. For example, hybrid and electric vehicles are very popular in California. The authorities of this state have placed a particular emphasis on the promotion of environmentally-friendly technologies. These measures find an appropriate response among consumers.
However, existing and emerging measures of state support in developing countries are not enough. One can confidently say that there is no serial production of hybrid vehicles in all developing countries. Certainly, the situation is not favorable for the automotive industry of developing countries and paves the way for stronger and more developed foreign automakers. Despite this, the automotive industry of developing countries also has the opportunity to compete for the market sales of hybrid vehicles.
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Such measures of the state support can contribute to this fact:
- stimulating production of vehicles with energy-efficient motors through establishment of the excise tax on the criteria that take into account not only maximum power of the engine, but its type and standard fuel consumption as well;
- encouraging purchase of new hybrid vehicles by the state’s partial subsidization;
- stimulating current operation of vehicles with energy-efficient motors by the differentiation of the vehicle tax rates, which take into account efficiency of the car and total number of the consumable fuel;
- setting zero customs duties;
- giving a permission to move on the lanes for public transport for hybrid vehicles;
- providing free parking for hybrid vehicles.
Thus, the problem of the hybrid vehicles popularization requires a legislative solution as soon as possible.
Resources of the Earth will not last forever and survival of the humanity requires a large supply of energy-raw materials, including oil, which is the most important of all kinds. Its reserves are constantly decreasing, which leads to the increase in prices of petroleum products and fuel for cars in particular. Moreover, internal combustion engines used in vehicles emit large amounts of hazardous air pollutants. All these factors have led to the fact that development of hybrid vehicles is extremely relevant today.
The term “hybrid vehicle” refers to the use of two or more different power units. Basically, it is a combination of the internal combustion engine and the electric motor. This combination allows the maximum use of their advantages with a simultaneous compensation of their shortcomings. Such a decision allows to significantly reduce fuel consumption since the internal combustion engine consumes average power that gives the opportunity to work in the uniform optimal mode.
The main advantage of the hybrid vehicle is the cost-effective operation. Reduction of harmful emissions of exhaust gases has become a direct consequence of the reduction of fuel consumption. The main disadvantage is greater weight, more complex nature, and more expensive cost than traditional vehicles with internal combustion engines.
Currently, hybrid vehicles are used in developed countries, but remain unpopular in developing countries. The only way to increase popularity of hybrid vehicles in those countries is a specific set of stimulating measures at the legislative level.