Hybrid Electric Vehicles
A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) is a type of hybrid vehicle and electric vehicle which combines a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) propulsion system with an electric propulsion system. The presence of the electric powertrain is intended to achieve either better fuel economy than a conventional vehicle or better performance. There are a variety of HEV types, and the degree to which they function as EVs varies as well. The most common form of HEV is the hybrid electric car, although hybrid electric trucks (pickups and tractors) and buses also exist.
Modern HEVs make use of efficiency-improving technologies such as regenerative braking, which converts the vehicle's kinetic energy into electric energy to charge the battery, rather than wasting it as heat energy as conventional brakes do. Some varieties of HEVs use their internal combustion engine to generate electricity by spinning an electrical generator (this combination is known as a motor-generator), to either recharge their batteries or to directly power the electric drive motors. Many HEVs reduce idle emissions by shutting down the ICE at idle and restarting it when needed; this is known as a start-stop system. A hybrid-electric produces less emissions from its ICE than a comparably-sized gasoline car, since an HEV's gasoline engine is usually smaller than a comparably-sized pure gasoline-burning vehicle (natural gas and propane fuels produce lower emissions) and if not used to directly drive the car, can be geared to run at maximum efficiency, further improving fuel economy.
In 1901 Ferdinand Porsche developed the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid, the first gasoline-electric hybrid automobile in the world. The hybrid-electric vehicle did not become widely available until the release of the Toyota Prius in Japan in 1997, followed by the Honda Insight in 1999. While initially perceived as unnecessary due to the low cost of gasoline, worldwide increases in the price of petroleum caused many automakers to release hybrids in the late 2000s; they are now perceived as a core segment of the automotive market of the future.
More than 5.8 million hybrid electric vehicles have been sold worldwide by the end of October 2012, led by Toyota Motor Company (TMC) with more than 4.6 million Lexus and Toyota hybrids sold by October 2012, followed by Honda Motor Co., Ltd. with cumulative global sales of more than 1 million hybrids by September 2012, and Ford Motor Corporation with more than 200 thousand hybrids sold in the United States by June 2012. Worldwide sales of hybrid vehicles produced by TMC reached 1 million units in May 2007; 2 million in August 2009; and passed the 4 million mark in April 2012. As of October 2012, worldwide hybrid sales are led by the Toyota Prius liftback, with cumulative sales of 2.8 million units, and available in almost 80 countries and regions. The United States is the world's largest hybrid market with more than 2.5 million hybrid automobiles and SUVs sold through October 2012, followed by Japan with more than 2 million hybrids sold through October 2012. The Prius is the top selling hybrid car in the U.S. market, surpassing the 1 million milestone in April 2011. Cumulative sales of the Prius in Japan reached the 1 million mark in August 2011.
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