How hybrid gasoline-electric cars work.
Automakers have finally combined the best of two cars—the electric and
the gasoline powered—into one fuel-efficient hybrid. The Honda Insight
and the Toyota Prius (see animation), which arrived in U.S. showrooms
in 1999 and 2000, respectively, rely primarily on gasoline, switching to
electricity under light loads, or use both types of energy simultaneously
when the vehicle needs a boost of power. Sensors placed throughout the
car monitor conditions such as throttle position, vehicle speed, and
battery charge, and relay the readings to a computer that decides how to
optimally divide the load between the gasoline engine and electric motor.
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