Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Alternatives to Hybrid cars

By: lar

Hybrid cars are considered by many to be the thinking driver’s solution to the current global warming debate. They are fuel-efficient and produce a great deal less emissions than their conventionally powered counterparts. At the present they are gaining greatly in popularity due to a variety of factors.

It is very trendy to be seen driving hybrid cars; it displays your green credentials to the world. It also saves you a great deal on the cost of your fuel. This is especially relevant for drivers, who cover high mileages, but less so if the mileage is small or you change your car frequently. This is due to the high cost of purchase. And of course you may be able to save us all from a global catastrophe, always a point worth mentioning at dinner parties. But are the present gas electric hybrid cars the best and most efficient way of saving the environment, and your money, or is there a better option?

The new breed of diesel cars that burn their fuel very cleanly and efficiently are way ahead of some hybrid cars in the fuel economy stakes. Mostly produced by European manufacturers they give huge cost savings over standard diesel engine cars and even more so over gas cars. These clean burn diesel cars can give as much as 90mpg (which is at least as good or better than the best of the Hybrid cars can achieve), and also offer low emissions through more efficient fuel combustion. American manufacturers such as Jeep are now producing this new generation of diesel cars and are catching up with their European counterparts.

One of the latest innovations in this field is a hydraulic hybrid car. These are not too dissimilar in their basic principle to standard hybrid cars. The main difference is that they use a hydraulic accumulator to store energy via nitrogen gas, which is then compressed by a hydrogen motor and is used to power the vehicle through a hydraulic drive train, which also replaces a standard transmission. These two vital differences not only make it extremely efficient but also cheaper to produce than normal hybrid cars.

These differences could result not only in a lower purchase price, which until now had been one of the major stumbling blocks, but also considerable saving in fuel costs. In fact savings could be in the region of 30-40 per cent, with the highest savings being from vehicles that are mainly used in the urban environment. These new type of hybrid cars are still in development but, if shown to be practical and reliable, could easily supersede the current gas electric hybrid cars that are currently in production.

Another competitors to the standard hybrid cars are electric cars. Until now these have been more of a novelty or student type project. But now with lightweight chassis and panels being easier to product and smaller high-powered long lasting batteries falling in cost, they are beginning to look much more like a viable proposition. The limited range and the need for mains recharging of the batteries make this only practical for short range or town driving and are unlikely to overtake (in any way) Hybrid cars at the moment.

Fuel cell cars are another alternative to hybrid cars and are thought by many to be one of the best options for virtually emission free motoring. Motorists would buy fuel as liquid hydrogen this would then be mixed with oxygen from the air in much the same way as a conventional engine takes air and uses the oxygen to mix with the gas. This can be used to generate electric power to drive the car.

Although their are many alternatives hybrid cars still present the best and most viable way of increasing our fuel economy while lowering the emissions. Though with some of the new projects in the offing this may all change and we may see cleaner cars than ever appearing in our showrooms.

Article Source:

Larry Westfall is the owner of
Article Submission done by:
Courtesy of:Asian_daily