By Igono Joseph Okeme
Identifying a hybrid car shouldn’t be all that different, or strange. Most of the car brands today in the hybrid market have one thing or the other that have set them apart as leaders in their various fields.
It should not be difficult for you to spot a hybrid car that has just gone pass you down the street or on the road.
For instance, this information would only be based on Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive (HSD).
Toyota calls its hybrid system HSD, meaning it derives its motion from a combination of either the internal combustion engine or the electric motors attached to its CVT (Continuous Variable Transmission).
How do you identity a hybrid?
* Toyota uses its hybrid logo, positioned at the passenger side front end and on the rear of the car.
* You notice when the car passes by you when driven, you hardly hear any noise. Though thus varies according to the speed demand ad at that time. If for instance the ECU (engine control unit) determines that the vehicle demands more speed and torque, the computer commands either both the engine and the electric motors to be in synchronization when driving. But if it (computer) decides less torque might be needed, the electric motors would be ones to keep running.
*You hardly see any emissions coming out if the tail pipe. However, emissions level could be visible, if only the internal combustion aspect of the system is ON.
The reason being that the by-product of fuel combustion is usually CO2 and others.
*It has two batteries positioned at the rear.
The small one is usually a 12 Volts battery, which powers the electronics of the car like the radio and the rest.
The other battery, commonly called a hybrid battery or a traction battery, has a nominal voltage of 244.8 volts (thus is for a Camry hybrid 2008).
The voltages of batteries vary from one Toyota hybrid to another, according to the number of cells in the battery pack.
Such batteries have the capability to electrocute one to death. So, please if you are not a qualified hybrid technician, it’s advisable you stay away from hybrid cars.
*At the hood (bonnet), you have what’s called an inverter/converter assembly. It resembles a conventional battery somewhat. It is positioned where your normal battery would be at the front.
The inverter/assembly system inverts and converts the hybrid battery’s voltage from 244.8 to almost more than twice the nominal voltage needed to power the electric motors that drive the car.
*Presence of ORANGE cables routed from the battery through to the front. The cables are equivalent to carriers of high tension voltages on our normal transmission lines on the street. I mean when touched carelessly, can electrocute someone. These cables are connected to your car’s electric AC system and water pump.
*The radiator coolant and the inverter coolants are separated differently.
* Power steering is electrically driven and has a separate ECU for its operation. You don’t see power steering fluids and spills anywhere in the engine compartment.
*The transmission is superb. It houses the two electric motors responsible for driving the car electrically and charging the hybrid battery.
The transmission is a variable continuous one, meaning when you drive, the engagement is not felt as the normal traditional automatics, where you feel the selections as the transmission selects.
The transmission also uses a special transmission fluid called Toyota’s World Standard fluid. Any other fluid would KILL the transmission system.
*The braking systems are bled differently. You can bleed the front brakes as a normal conventional car while the rear requires special softwares for its operation. The rear brakes are operated by the brake actuator and if proper tools aren’t used for the bleeding process, it would take ages to be able to bleed the air out of the rear brake system because of accumulated air bubbles.
*A READY indicator comes on when the hybrid is being started.
Remember. Hybrid cars don’t have kick starters and alternators.
With this piece, you shouldn’t find it difficult differentiating between a hybrid and a normal car when you encounter one.
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