If you drive a traditional gasoline vehicle, you may be interested in switching to a hybrid or all-electric vehicle for a lower environmental impact and savings at the pump. Learn how cars operate using gasoline and other fuel sources, courtesy of the US Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center to help you decide which one might be right for you.
Gas-powered cars use internal combustion engines. When you turn the key, the car battery starts the engine, and fuel is pumped from the tank through the fuel line and into the fuel injection system. Then, the gas is injected into the combustion chamber or intake manifold.
There, the fuel is combined with air and ignited by a spark from the spark plugs. The transmission transfers mechanical power from the fuel in the engine to the electric traction motor, which drives the wheels. While this is all happening, exhaust gases from the engine channel out the tailpipe.
Hybrid electric vehicles use both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor powered by an auxiliary battery. This type of electric car doesn’t plug in to recharge its battery—instead, regenerative braking and the engine itself recharge the battery. You still fill up at the pump the way you would with a conventional gas-powered vehicle.
Smaller engines are possible thanks to the extra power provided by the electric motor, which can run the car for short distances at low speeds. The auxiliary battery also powers vehicle accessories, such as the headlights and radio, to reduce engine idling. These features make hybrid cars much more fuel efficient than gas-only vehicles without sacrificing performance.
This type of electric vehicle builds on the performance and efficiency of hybrid cars by giving users the option to charge the battery using a wall outlet or charging station. The battery can still recharge using power from the internal combustion engine and regenerative braking, but an external charging option maximizes fuel economy.
The battery is also bigger than those in regular hybrid cars, allowing drivers to go further on pure electric power (10 to 50 miles in current models). As a result, plug-in hybrids offer the utmost economy and versatility, making them suitable for commuting as well as traveling longer distances with better fuel economy than gas-powered cars.
These non-conventional vehicles do away with the internal combustion engine altogether. Instead, they use a large traction battery pack to power the electric motor and must be plugged into a wall outlet or charging station to recharge. Because they consume no fossil fuels, all-electric vehicles emit no exhaust.
If you have solar panels on your house that generate electricity from the sun, you can charge your car virtually for free. Many cities, including Fort Collins, also have public charging stations for electric vehicle drivers to use. The only concern comes when driving long distances with a less reliable network of charging stations compared to gas stations. You must also wait several minutes for the battery to charge.
Unlike other electric vehicles, these cars produce electricity from a hydrogen fuel cell rather than a battery. The size of the fuel cell determines the power of the vehicle. As with all-electric vehicles, they produce no harmful emissions—only water vapor and warm air.
These cars work by storing pure hydrogen gas until the fuel cell converts it into electricity. Users can fill up in five minutes or less, similar to conventional cars, except that the fuel is hydrogen gas instead of gasoline. The infrastructure to fuel hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles is still in the early stages of development. Right now, these cars are only available in select markets, including California, where users have access to hydrogen fueling stations.
At Scott’s, we have experience maintaining and repairing all sorts of cars, including hybrid, plug-in, and all-electric vehicles. Stop by today, whether you need a simple tune-up or a major car repair following an accident. You can schedule an appointment online, call us at (970) 682-4202, or stop in for services when it’s convenient for you.