Since the inception of automotive hybrid vehicles in the late 1990s, vehicle makers and drivers have seen many changes. From the types of alternative vehicles, such as hybrid, plug-in, or all electric, to the options for charging hybrid batteries.
Whether the motivation to purchase a hybrid vehicle is environmental or due to the rising gas prices around the world, these vehicles continue to change in order to meet the constant demand. In this article, hybrid enthusiasts can find notable information regarding the fluid hybrid battery and energy trends.
How Things Have Changed
Although electric vehicles have been around for over 100 years, they didn’t gain popularity among consumers until the 2000s. As consumers became more conscious of carbon emissions and their effect on our environment, hybrid vehicles helped start the conversation about options for more responsible vehicle ownership.
Thanks in part to state and federal regulations, the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendment and a 1992 Energy Policy Act were passed and automakers took note. By modifying popular vehicle models to be electric, automakers found a way to market to consumers with a renewed interest in electric vehicles.
General Motors built their first electric vehicle, the EV1, with an 80 mile range and capabilities of 0 to 50 in seven seconds. Unfortunately, the high cost of production meant the EV1 was not a commercially viable option and GM discontinued manufacturing of the electric vehicle in 2001.
A turning point came in 2000, when Toyota began selling the Prius worldwide. Using the nickel metal hydride battery, Toyota was able to sustain production to meet growing demand for their new release. Due to its popularity, other big automakers began rolling out their own hybrid and electric vehicles.
There was still one issue holding back U.S. consumers from purchasing hybrid vehicles: where to charge their new environmentally friendly cars? The Recovery Act through the Energy Department offered funds to the tune of $115 million to build a nationwide charging infrastructure for consumers to charge their hybrid battery on the go.
Hybrid Battery Trends Today
To help sustain and grow the electric vehicle industry, over 18,000 charging stations were built worldwide and automakers began searching for new battery technologies. This helped improve a plug-in vehicles range and thanks to research from the Energy Department’s Vehicle Technologies Office, the lithium ion battery was developed and used in Chevrolet’s electric vehicle, the Volt.
Lithium Ion batteries are made up of carbon and highly reactive lithium, both of which can store a lot of energy. NiMH uses hydrogen to store energy plus nickel and another metal (like titanium) to secure hydrogen ions. Because lithium ion batteries weigh less, they help get the vehicle moving faster.
Nickel Metal Hydride batteries are less expensive due to their age on the market, but automakers believe the price of lithium ion batteries will decrease as their popularity and use in vehicles increase. Lithium ion battery technology has become an important piece in growing the hybrid battery and energy trends of today’s sustainability minded society.
With the constant research from the Energy Department, the growing market for electric vehicles, and the tenacity of automakers, there are now 23 types of plug-in vehicles and 36 hybrid models available in varying sizes. In the United States alone, there are more than 3.3 million hybrid vehicles on the road.
The Future of Hybrid Batteries
Now that we know where we’ve been and where we are today, many wonder where hybrid and electric vehicles are going. A few factors come into play when looking to the future of hybrid battery and energy trends.
The declining availability of crude oil and the increased toll on our environment would have many market watchers believe that electric vehicles will continue to gain popularity. With this inevitable growth, we can expect to see new technologies available to automakers.
Hybrid batteries have dropped in price since they first hit the market and will continue to become more affordable as the electric vehicle industry grows. Along with lower price, the hybrid battery failure rate has dropped during the last decade. One study from Science Daily even suggests that scientists at Purdue University are developing materials to create an “instantly rechargeable” hybrid battery. See the article here: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170601151813.htm
Another advancement in hybrid battery and energy trends is the research and development of solar vehicles. Back in March, The Hybrid Geek took a deep dive into the integration of solar energy in hybrid vehicles.
Where do you think the hybrid battery and energy trends are going from here? For updates and insight into the world of all things hybrid and electric vehicles, follow our blog.