The hybrid car battery pack serves as a storage device for the electric motor in hybrid cars. It could be viewed as the most important component of the vehicle as the chemical reactions which occur in the batteries actually make the car move.
Hybrid cars are a combination of the traditional gasoline car and the electric car. They seek to reduce the pollution emissions of traditional gasoline cars, while also trying to overcome the speed and recharging problems which are inherent with electric cars.
There are different ways in which a hybrid car battery is utilized. In a parallel hybrid system for instance, the fuel tank feeds gasoline to both the engine and the batteries which supplies power to the electric motor. The engine and the electric motor will turn the transmission simultaneously, and the transmission will turn the wheels. However in the series hybrid system, the gasoline will actually turn the generator, and is able to either charge the batteries or supply power to the electric motor.
Currently there are three types of hybrid car battery on the market:
- Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH)
- Lithium-ion (Li-ion)
Lead-acid is heavy and very toxic. Using a battery like this reduces the gains in fuel efficiency provided by the electric motor and can cause environmental concerns. However, researchers are looking to improve the technology behind lead-acid batteries, and have created the UltraBattery which contains supercapacitors to increase speed. Nickel-metal hydride batteries are less toxic, but are carcinogenic. Lithium-ion batteries are the least toxic, and are used in electrical items such has laptops, MP3 players, mobile phones, video cameras and DVD players. They are smaller and lighter than the other types of hybrid car battery, and are now considered the most suitable hybrid car battery to be used in cars.
The hybrid car battery has also proven to be very long-lasting. Toyota reported that of the 1.1 million Prius series sold in the United States, only around 500 batteries actually needed to be replaced. Similarly, many of the Ford Escape Hybrid cars used as taxis are also still using their original hybrid car battery packs.