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Hybrid Engines vs. Standard Engine Research Paper

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Updated: Aug 30th, 2019


The vast majority of the world’s transport system is powered by fossil fuels. In all industrialized countries, transportation accounts for a significant amount of the total fossil fuels consumption. Curtis and Anderson reveal that by the year 2005, approximately 20 percent of the oil used in the US was used for transporting purposes (11). In the recent decades, it has come to the world’s attention that the overreliance on fossil fuels is both unsustainable and detrimental to the environment.

New technologies have therefore been developed which promise to significantly reduce the fuel consumption by motor vehicles. One of these technologies is the hybrid engine which makes use of an electric motor which is powered by high voltage batteries as well as a conventional engine to propel a vehicle. Hybrid engines have been used to power hybrid cars with significant advantages being reaped by the user and the environment.

However, the hybrid engine still suffers from significant demerits which have led to some people questioning if these engines are preferable to conventional engines. This paper will argue that hybrid cars are superior to standard cars and therefore should be used more widely. The paper will highlight the strengths that hybrid engines have over standard engines. To provide a balanced view on the topic, the paper will also highlight the major arguments against hybrid engines and provide counterarguments for the same.

Comparing Hybrid Cars with Standard Cars

Merits of Hybrid Cars compared to Standard Cars

Arguably the most significant advantage of hybrid cars over standard ones is their low CO2 emissions. The growth in automobile mobility has resulted in increased use of standard engines and consequently a worsening of air quality for the country.

Research indicates that road transport and international shipping are the two largest contributors to the global emissions of Nitrogen Oxides which are greenhouse gases. Calef and Goble reveal that in California, on-road mobile sources were responsible for 51% of nitrogen oxides (4). Greenhouses gases have been blamed for a myriad of negative environmental impacts including; global warming, acid rains, respiratory conditions to name but a few.

While other solutions such as electric cars have been tried out in the quest to reduce the CO2 emissions by vehicles, hybrid engines have emerged as the only realistic technological option for personal vehicles that does not rely exclusively on gasoline (Calef and Goble 25). Hybrid engines that are used to power hybrid vehicles have proved to be a viable technological option to reduce air pollution.

The use hybrid engine powered vehicles in California and France has resulted in an improvement of the urban air quality in both these two regions (Calef and Goble 27). Hybrid engines ensure that the minimum possible levels of CO2 are emitted by the vehicles. In these engines, temperature and other parameters are constantly regulated when the gasoline engine is running to ensure that they are running at the lowest level of emissions.

In addition to this, the gasoline engine is powered off when the vehicle engine is turned off therefore ensuring that there is zero carbon emission. Arguments are raised that standard engines have been significantly improved to reduce their pollution levels. Stewart contends that diesels have been efficient due to their high compression rations and while the exhaust fumes produced by the engines made them environmentally unfriendly, today’s engines are engineered to burn cleaner (Stewart 61).

While this assertion is true, standard engines can still not match the low levels of emissions that are achieved through hybrid engines. The more fuel efficient engines are, the greater the reduction in the deleterious environmental impacts of fossil fuels and also the longer the fossil fuel reserves on earth will last (McKinney and Schoch 236).

Hybrid cars are more economical to operate than standard engines due to their lower overall fuel consumption. This makes them much cost efficient since the hybrid engine is able to achieve more miles per gallon compared to standard engines. The cost of fuel is constantly rising and the fuel consumption rate is becoming a major consideration for many people as they purchase vehicles. In addition to this, there have been concerns by policy makers about the reliance on fossil fuel imports.

The government has been imposing fuel economy standards in a bid to reduce on the fuel consumption by passenger cars and trucks (McKinney and Schoch 236). Hybrid engines help to reduce the fuel expenditure since the conventional engine in the hybrid system is not used when the hybrid vehicle is running at low speeds or when it is idling. Hybrid engines help the government to achieve a reduction in imported oil which has been the goal of the Federal government for decades.

This is because hybrid engines attain impressive energy efficiency when compared to engines fueled by gasoline (Demirdöven and Deutch 974). In their analysis of energy efficiency of hybrid engines and conventional internal combustion engines, Demirdöven and Deutch indicate that hybrid engines offer significant energy efficiency advantage over conventional engines (974). Proponents of standard engines insist that major improvements have been made in engine designs which bring about increased fuel efficiencies.

McKinney and Schoch reveal that the high fuel intake by old engines was as a result of energy in gasoline being lost because of the inefficiency of the engines (236). Newly developed engines burn leaner as a result of delicate electronic oxygen sensors and therefore increase the fuel efficiencies. While it is true that the engines of the last decade are more efficient that the standard engines of the former decades, hybrid engines result in even greater fuel efficiency.

Hybrid cars are attractive to both policymakers and manufacturers of automobiles since they do not require the use of technology that is entirely new to the motor industry. Calef and Goble elaborate that electric vehicles that are both efficient and have a high performance are yet to be developed (8).

Hybrid technology on the other hand makes use of the conventional engines whose performance has been perfected over the decades. Hybrid technology gives the same range drivers expect from standard engines and do not suffer from the recharging-time problems that is associated with electric vehicles. Hybrid engines therefore make merge the efficiency of the electric motor with the high performance of the standard engine.

Disadvantages of Hybrid Cars compared to Standard Cars

Hybrid cars pose a significant danger to human beings since their electric motors are powered by high-voltage batteries which may electrocute a person. The Zurich American Insurance Company reveals that hybrid engines are especially dangerous for technicians due to the more complicated electrical components that are part of the system (2).

A significant point to note is that the high voltage contained in the hybrid engine battery is enough to be lethal to a person who is exposed to it. This is a major demerit since all machines require servicing and/or repairing at some point in time.

As a result of the high risks and complications associated with hybrid engines, there are few workshops which offer repairs for hybrid engines. This is in contrast to the high number of repair shops for standard engines. In most cases, a person may be forced to take the hybrid to the manufacturers for repairs or for maintenance.

This makes maintaining the hybrid engine significantly more expensive than the standard engine. While it is true that hybrid engines pose significant risks to technicians, this risks can be minimized by following safety protocols.

The high voltage cables of hybrid engines are color-coded which acts as a warning for the technician to avoid contact with them when repairing the vehicle (The Zurich American Insurance Company 2). In addition to this, more technicians are receiving training on how to deal with hybrid engines as the popularity of hybrid vehicles grows. It can therefore be expected that the number of competent technicians and repair shops will increase in the near future.

Compared to the standards engine, the hybrid engine is an immature technology and advancements in its productions have not yet been achieved. Initial objections for the hybrid engine were based on the fact that it was a new technology. Opponents of hybrid engines initially cited “unproven technology” as the main reason for their opposition to this technology (Darrel and Anderson 83).

Half a decade ago, this assertion that hybrid engines were a new and untested technology could have held true. This is no longer the case and major manufacturers such as Honda have been working with the technology for over a decade and have made improvements on the technology over the years. Today hybrid engines are a mature technology and manufacturers and consumers are familiar with the technology.

Hybrid engines result in the generation of magnetic fields which are said to have adverse health effects on human beings. Motavalli reveals that exposure to electromagnetic fields is inevitable for the drive and passenger of a vehicle which is operating on a hybrid engine (1).

This is because the batteries and the power cable in hybrid vehicles are located close to the occupants of the vehicle. The situation is made worse for people who operate the hybrid engines for extended periods of time. Studies indicate that there is a strong relationship between long-term exposure to high EMF and cancer risks (Motavalli 1). While it is true that hybrid engines do result in the emission of EMFs, manufactures are keen to ensure that the EMF levels do not pose risks to vehicle users.

Toyota which is a major manufacturer of hybrid vehicles strongly asserted that the EMF generated by hybrid engines in their vehicles was as low as that of conventional gasoline vehicles and as such, the concerns about high EMF were unwarranted (Motavalli). Where there is real concern about the EMF generated by the engines, people can make use of electromagnetic shielding to safeguard themselves from high EMF emissions.

Hybrid engines cost significantly higher than standard engines due to the cost of the components of the system as well as the technology. The initial cost of a hybrid car is therefore higher than that of a standard engine car which makes them unaffordable to some people. Darrel and Anderson reveal that even with the relatively higher cost of hybrids, these engines are beginning to have markets all over the world (107).

Governments in many parts of the world are offering incentives to manufactures so as to reduce the cost of hybrid cars. The high efficiency and low emission of hybrid engines has also led to some governments and local authorities encouraging their use through special tax reductions and waiving of levies.

Discussion and Conclusion

Today, more emphasis is being place on efficient transportation and environmentally friendly means of transportation. The increasing costs of fuel as well as the negative environmental impacts of fossil fuels have led to the search for alternatives to conventional engines. Hybrid cars assist in the realization of these goals due to their high fuel efficiency as well as reduced CO2 emissions.

Many governments are therefore encouraging the development and use of hybrid cars by the population. While there are some valid concerns about hybrid cars, this paper has demonstrated that most of them are exaggerated. The real concerns such as the risk of electrocution to vehicle service personnel can be overcome by following best practices when dealing with hybrid cars.

This paper set out to argue that hybrid cars are more advantageous than standard cars. The paper has shown that hybrid cars have gained a broad market appeal due to the fact that they result in substantial improvements in fuel efficiency and reduce on the emissions of green house gases.

However, the paper has noted that hybrids have some significant weaknesses when compared to standard cars. Even so, it has been demonstrated that this weaknesses are not tremendous and the benefits that hybrid engines posses makes them preferable to standard engines.

Works Cited

Calef, David and Goble Robert. “The allure of technology: How France and California promoted electric and hybrid vehicles to reduce urban air pollution.” Policy Sciences 40.1 (2007): 1-34.

Darrel, Curtis and Anderson, Judy. Electric and hybrid cars: a history. New York: McFarland, 2010. Print.

Demirdöven, Nurettin and Deutch, John. “Hybrid Cars Now, Fuel Cell Cars Later.” Science, 305.56 (2004): 974-976. Print.

McKinney, Michael and Schoch Robert. “Improving the fuel economy of gasoline powered vehicles.” Environmental science: systems and solutions. Boston: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2007: 236-239. Print.

Motavalli, Jim. “”. The New York Times. 2008. Web.

Stewart, Ben. “Diesel Engines.” Popular Mechanics 182.2 (2008): 60-64. Print.

Zurich American Insurance Company. . Zurich American Insurance Company, 2010. Web.

Annotated Bibliography

Calef, David and Goble Robert. “The allure of technology: How France and California promoted electric and hybrid vehicles to reduce urban air pollution.” Policy Sciences 40.1 (2007): 1-34. Print.

Calef and Goble point out that all advanced industrialized societies face the problem of air pollution as a result of motor vehicles. This problem is prevalent in spite of the significant improvements that have been made in internal combustion engine technology over the years.

The authors discuss the different approaches used by California and France to improve air quality through the promotion of clean vehicles. While California policymakers imposed stringent regulations to achieve their ambitious goals of zero emission vehicles, France adopted a less adversarial process. Calef and Goble argue that the Californian approach resulted in development of innovative hybrid vehicles which were more effective and had a positive impact on the environment.

Darrel, Curtis and Anderson, Judy. Electric and hybrid cars: a history. New York: McFarland, 2010. Print.

Darrel and Anderson give a historical overview of the electric and hybrid cars. The technological and environmental issues which have increased the popularity of hybrid engines are addressed. The authors trace how the hybrid engine has evolved from being an “unproven technology” to a mature technology that is today popular with both manufacturers and consumers. The authors note how the hybrid concept had a negative impact on electric cars since resources were diverted to developing better hybrid engines.

The convenience of not having to plug hybrid cars for charging was a major selling point and this popularity has increased markedly over the years. Darrel and Anderson highlight the role that governments have played in the development of hybrid electric vehicles. These contributions have been in the form of subsidies as well as grants for research efforts to help develop new batteries and encourage manufacturers to develop technologies to make the hybrid engines more efficient.

Demirdöven, Nurettin and Deutch, John. “Hybrid Cars Now, Fuel Cell Cars Later.” Science, 305.56 (2004): 974-976. Print.

Demirdöven and Deutch compare the energy efficiency of hybrid engines as well as conventional internal combustion engines so as to demonstrate that hybrid engines are more efficient. They advocate that the shift to hybrid technology is necessitated by the need to meet energy needs at an acceptable cost, with greater efficiency and less environmental damages. The authors indicate that the government and policy makers should give priority to hybrid engine development over other technologies such as fuel cell.

They demonstrate that hybrid engines attain energy efficiency that is better than fuel operated engines. Demirdöven and Deutchassrt contend that if the priority by key players is to develop technology that brings about reduction in imported oil and carbon dioxide emissions, then there is strong justification to make advances in hybrid technology which will achieve this results in a fairly small time.

McKinney, Michael and Schoch Robert. “Improving the fuel economy of gasoline powered vehicles.” Environmental science: systems and solutions. Boston: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2007: 236-239. Print.

McKinney and Schoch note that despite the impressive advances in the development of cars and trucks that are powered by electricity or natural gas, vehicles that rely on conventional gasoline and diesel will remain predominant in the private transportation sector for many years to come.

The authors therefore deem hybrid engines as being most ideal since they attain remarkable fuel ratings while mitigating harmful environmental effects of the standard engine. They conclude by noting that energy conservation and increasing energy efficiencies are today the most important means of mitigating fossil fuel environmental problems as well as ensuring that energy resources of the earth last longer.

Motavalli, Jim. “Fear, but Few Facts, on Hybrid Risk”. The New York Times. 2008. Web.

Motavalli sets out to discuss the health risks that the electromagnetic fields emitted by hybrid vehicles pose to the occupants. He notes that concerns about the health impacts of EMFs are legitimate since credible bodies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute have explicitly acknowledged that hazards posed by this radiations.

He documents that the damage caused by the EMFs is especially significant for drivers who spend extended hours per day using their vehicles. Motavalli notes that while manufacturers of hybrid vehicles insist that the EMF levels of hybrid vehicles are too low to have any health impacts, experts in the field advice that the potential health effects should not be completely ignored. People should therefore be wary of the risks that hybrid risks and take protective measures to avoid the exposure to EMFs.

Stewart, Ben. “Diesel Engines.” Popular Mechanics 182.2 (2008): 60-64. Print.

Stewart argues that while hybrids are becoming popular due to their fuel efficiency and environmental friendliness, standard engines such as the diesel engines have a long history or efficiency and are today engineered to burn cleaner. The author however acknowledges that hybrids improve efficiency of standard engines. He also notes that most hybrid cars are built to deliver both performance and economy which makes them less fuel efficient since high performance is a key consideration.

Zurich American Insurance Company. Hybrid Vehicles: Today’s newest technology produces new risks for automotive service businesses. Zurich American Insurance Company, 2010. Web.

The Zurich American Insurance Company warns about the additional risks that hybrid engines bring to the automotive service businesses. They begin by noting that there has been a significant increase in the number of hybrid vehicles sold in the US over the past decade due to the advantages that hybrid engines possess. They note that the significant safety dangers that are inherent when servicing hybrid engines can be mitigated by obtaining proper training on how hybrid engine handling and following manufacturer recommendations.

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