Since the invention of the automobile, engineers considered many different engines, and the electric motor was always one of their options. The only problem was that it always had one drawback: range. So automotive manufacturers soon adopted the internal combustion engine, which became the industry standard. However, these engines had their own drawbacks too: they consume a lot of fuel, and the produces a lot of harmful gases and emissions. So what’s the solution?
The Japanese were amongst those who put their minds to solving this issue, and soon they pioneered a new concept: the hybrid system. Toyota was a pioneer of the new technology and put it into mass production. The Toyota Prius soon became a symbol of this new technology, as the most popular hybrid vehicle in the world.
But what is a hybrid system, and how does it work? In very simple terms, it’s a system that relies on two types of engines, a conventional internal combustion engine, and an electric motor powered by batteries. The two power units can work simultaneously, or push the car separately depending on specific conditions controlled by the engines’ management units, taking into consideration the car’s speed, throttle position, and energy levels in the battery.
To put simply, the conventional engine works like any other car. but with a powerful, high-torque electric motor providing extra power from low engine revs, the conventional engine doesn’t have to produce as much power as it would if it was pushing the car alone, thus lowering its fuel consumption by a considerable level.
A question that many ask though is, what happens when the batteries run empty? The answer is simple: they never do. Those batteries are re-charged continuously, first through the regenerative braking system that harvests the energy that would otherwise be dissipated as heats into the brakes, and transforms it into electrical power channeled back to the batteries. And if this power wasn’t enough to charge the batteries, then the conventional engines starts again, and channels some of its own power, working as a generator, to produce the energy needed to charge the batteries again. It all sounds very complicated, and it is technically. But from a driver’s point of view, this transition happens so seamlessly, that you wouldn’t know what was happening it wasn’t for the onboard data shown in the car. More importantly is that the end result is constant power provided by the batteries to lower the fuel consumption levels.
Another question is: can a hybrid run on electric power alone? And the answer is yes, it can under light throttle loads, at low and moderate speeds and when the battery is sufficiently charged, the Toyota Camry Hybrid can run on electric power alone. It even has a button to select this mode when the car is “EV ready”. But if you push the throttle harder and increase the speed, or the battery finally runs low of charge level, the conventional engine starts up again, and the whole process starts once again.
With this technology, and thanks to the increased power of the electric motor and its instant torque, not only do you consume less fuel, save your money and your car emits less emissions, but you also gain extra performance. The perfect solution? The 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid.