What the Maverick (and Prius) Might Have Been . . .

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Hybrids are the solution to the problem of EVs, which are being pushed on us to salve a problem that is – at best – grossly exaggerated and at worst entirely confected. Of a piece with the ‘Rona, which people were assured would kill us all – or at least – kill a lot of us, indiscriminately – when in fact it killed very few who weren’t already on their way to being dead already, as from old age or some chronic, pre-existing debility.

Either way, the “problem” – of a “changing” climate – won’t be solved by driving energy hog EVs that cause at least as much – and probably a lot more – in the way of the bogeyman gas, carbon dioxide, to be produced as is “emitted” by energy-efficient hybrids.

Models like the Ford Maverick and – more famously – the new (just redesigned) Toyota Prius. The latter approaches averaging 60 MPG, which means it uses very little gas and for that reason, driving it results in very little in the way of gasses being “emitted.”

Bogeyman gasses and otherwise.

The Maverick is comparably efficient – given it’s a truck. It is much larger – and much more capable than the Prius, in that it can be used for work as well as transportation. Yet it still averages 40 MPG – which is about 30 percent better than a non-hybrid truck manages. And it manages to be much less expensive than other trucks, listing for just over $22k to start.

Now imagine what these two hybrids might have been if it had been possible to design them as diesel-electric hybrids.

You know, like diesel-electric locomotives.

Why do you suppose the railroads use them rather than gas-electric locomotives? Could it be on account of diesel being a far more efficient way to generate electricity, which in turn powers the traction motors that move the locomotive?

To ask the question is to answer it.

Even though diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline fuel, it is still so much more efficient it is less expensive to use it to generate the electricity that propels a diesel-electric locomotive. That matters when you’re in business – and are trying to remain in it. Using gas rather than diesel would increase the cost of business, if you’re in the railroad business. And not just  because gas is less efficient. Gas engines cost more – over the long haul – because they don’t last as long. Diesel engines last longer because diesel isn’t just a fuel – and it’s not a solvent (as gasoline is).

It is a lubricant as well as a fuel.

Diesels last longer because burning diesel also lubricates the wear surfaces of the diesel, such as the cylinder walls. In a gas engine, these are washed down by the solvent-gas, which is one of the reasons why a gas engine might go 200,000 or more miles before it starts burning oil – whereas an oil burning engine often goes twice that long.

A hybrid car – or truck, like the Maverick – is a smaller-scale elaboration of the diesel-electric concept, sans the diesel. Hybrids cars – most of them – are not exactly the same in that the gas engine also turns the wheels (as opposed to just charging the batteries that power the electric motors) but the point is the same.

And if a diesel rather than a gas-burning engine were used instead, a hybrid car – or truck – would be both much more efficient and (as is true of diesel engines generally) longer lived. It’s why diesel engines are used on over-the-road trucks, which rack up lots of miles, very quickly.

It is hard to say exactly how much more efficient a diesel-electric hybrid car would have been without actually having one to put to the test. But we can extrapolate from what was made – very briefly and just a few of them – by VW, before it became a kind of crime to put a diesel engine in anything sold in this country.

VW had been working on a diesel-electric hybrid commuter car that averaged 150 miles-per-gallon. VW also sold a number of diesel non-hybrids that averaged nearly 50 miles per gallon. Pairing an engine that efficient with an electric storage battery and motors that could propel the car a third of the time – with the rest of the time the diesel engine turned off, as the gas engine is turned off when it is not needed to move the car, in a conventional gas-electric hybrid – would surely result in a diesel-electric hybrid capable of averaging at least 60 miles-per-gallon or better, in the case of a smallish commuter car like the Prius.

And 50 for a diesel-hybrid truck such as a Maverick laid out that way.

These are probably under-estimates of what is possible.

Isn’t a shame it is de facto illegal?

The question that percolates upward is . . . why

Of course, the stock answer given is that it was necessary to out-regulate (as opposed to outlaw) diesels in passenger cars because of their “emissions.” In fact, it was necessary to regulate them off the market because their efficiency presented an existential threat to the rationale for the forced (via regulation) electrification of transportation. Highly efficient, highly economical, very affordable diesels make inefficient, uneconomic and unaffordable EVs look like synthetic meat compared with grass-fed steak.

And even more efficient, economical and affordable diesel-electric hybrids would have made that comparison even less favorable – to the EV.

There’s the real answer to the question.

And now you know.

. . .

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43 COMMENTS

  1. Eric,

    On a somewhat related note…

    Have you noticed that Toyota had succumbed to the Tesla/EV emphasis on speed/performance?

    The new Prius is much quicker, which in and of itself is a good thing. But all the ads I’ve seen so far emphasize that it’s peppy and quicker, with not a mention of it’s efficiency or economy.

  2. Off topic, but am I missing something here?

    If you get a modernish diesel, move somewhere without testing, delete the crap, tune to make it work, and drive with more power and better fuel economy. Keep your mouth shut and find someone who would as well, and you’ll be fine so long as you keep under the radar.

    What could go wrong?

  3. Anyone interested in how Toyota hybrids work should view the video that Adi Heidler linked to in a reply that’s down near the end of these comments. It is first-rate, produced by a guy who teaches mechanics how to work on these things.
    After driving one for a few weeks and then watching that video, I wonder if the reason diesels have not found a place in the hybrid world has to do with the way they start and stop, which is something that the IC engine in a hybrid does a lot.
    With its much higher compression ratio, it takes a lot more power to start a diesel, which would extract more from the battery each time. And when a diesel shuts down, that high compression ratio causes it to stop more abruptly, and with a shudder. The Corolla hybrid is silky smooth, and if it weren’t for the tachometer I doubt I would notice the starts and stops. But with a diesel I might. Did manufacturers decide that these minuses outweighed the mileage and longevity benefits?

    • Hi Roland,

      Those are valid concerns. Many hybrids use a belt (or flywheel) starter-generator system to smooth out these transitions. Another way to do it could be via a compression release valve (as some bikes have). In any case, the potential efficiency gains would, I think, be well worth the effort.

      • Yes Eric, I was thinking too that some sort of compression release to soften the stops would be fairly easy to design. Of course this is all moot now that anti-diesel hysteria has taken hold.
        The video offers a great peek into how the tried-and-true Toyota design works. Turns out there are two motor/generators, with the one closest to the engine appearing to be coupled in-line directly to the crank. That’s the one that starts the engine, with almost no noise. I had wondered too whether the car does any regen under trailing throttle, without the brakes applied. Turns out it does in what he calls the “coasting” state. That’s good news for me since I don’t touch the brakes much.

  4. Plug-in hybrids, like the Prius Prime, are ideal for drivers whose average daily drive is within the car’s EV range. In general, driving EV rather gently, it is possible to get about 4 mp/kwh (miles per kilowatt hour of electricity). Look at your electric bill and do a little math to see the cost per mile, and then compare that cpm with gas. Add to these savings the additional wear and tear costs saved in the form of running gear (e.g., engine wear, lubricants, and brake pad savings through regenerative braking.). Go ahead and add the weight costs of the 8-12 KW hour battery, which is about the same as a couple of fit teens in your back seat. Bet you still come out way ahead! And relax about battery life: factory warranties are in the 10 year/100K range now. Got an interstate trip to make? Just fill the 11 gallon gas tank every 500 miles or so.
    And, yes, point well taken re: diesels; they would be even better and give much improved engine life.
    The new Prius Prime has a nearly 50% higher capacity EV battery, which extends its EV range a good bit. That have (unfortunately, I think) gone away from the outstanding Atkinson cycle ICE to a more conventional design. But they did a major re-style of the body, which will please many folks. Hope Eric gives us a full review soon!

  5. There were concept cars about 15-20 years ago from Ford and GM (Opel/Saturn) that were tested to have fuel consumption at around 70-80 Mpg. That’s taking into account the much more primitive hybrid tech of 2005-2008 relative to today.
    The vehicles were compact cars mostly.
    The concept car of the Opel/Saturn Flextreme (essentially a diesel Chevy Volt) could get to crazy 150 Mpg rating.
    Compare it to my car that is also from that era, the hybrid Honda Insight, which does only 45 Mpg.

    • Which is why cars and crossovers all tend to look the same now. Aerodynamics don’t lie, and applying them at peak efficiency is going to result in a form follows function sameness.

  6. Eric,

    I believe that the Toyota Prius, Ford Maverick, and most other hybrids are parallel hybrids; that is, the ICE provides the main propulsion, while the electric motor supplements the ICE. What you’re talking about is a SERIES hybrid, wherein the electric motors provide the propulsion, while the ICE provides the electricity for the electric motors. The only series hybrid car that I’m aware of is the now discontinued Chevrolet Volt. Even the Volt wasn’t 100% like a Diesel electric locomotive, as its electric motors drew juice from the battery, while the onboard ICE kept the battery charged.

    Also, another reason why locomotives are laid out the way they are is because it’s easier and more efficient to use the Diesel ICE to generate electricity for the traction motors vs. a mechanical transmission connecting the Diesel to the wheels. Using a conventional, geared transmission on a locomotive would be too complex, expensive, and unwieldy. Hence, it’s easier, more efficient, and more reliable to have a Diesel engine spin a generator, which, in turn, power the electric traction motors.

    • Eric,

      I wish we could EDIT our posts! Since we can’t, I have to add more this way. With the above in mind, I wish we COULD get cars like the Volt or that wonderful VW; they’d be perfect for me! Unfortunately, Diesel cars have been de facto outlawed here in the US.

      • I make plenty of typos all over the Internet. Over time I’m learning to pause and proofread thanks to the lack of an edit button here. While proofing I also do a fair bit of editing and fix bad comments. So thanks to Eric I’m getting a little more thoughtful before sending.

        And while I’m sure most of us would be honest and continue the conversation, what happens when the next Clover comes along and edits troll/flame posts after the replies start flowing to make them look bad?

        • Indeed, I’m opposed to the “edit” button. It tends to encourage rapid response instead of careful consideration.

    • > The only series hybrid car that I’m aware of is the now discontinued Chevrolet Volt.

      The Volt was originally planned to be a series hybrid, but (IIRC) pre-production testing showed it was more efficient above 70 mph to route power from the engine directly to the wheels, so it hit the market as a parallel, plug-in hybrid.

  7. Diesels are effectively banned because of their hydrocarbon (soot) emissions. Given the long chain molecules in diesel fuel, when you burn it, you get a mix of all kinds of stuff as they break up, and some of it is sooty. You are allowed to build diesels, but the HC limits in exhaust are so low that it’s impossible to build such an engine.

    This is the same path they’re taking to banning gasoline engines before the outright ban hits in 2035 – mandate a mix of fuel efficiency and CO2 limits which are impossible to achieve.

    Funny thing is, EV’s powered by the average US power grid emit more CO2 than the limits being placed on gasoline cars.

    • Hi, OL,
      You should draw a distinction between gaseous hydrocarbons and particulates (soot). AFAIK, gaseous HCs are pretty well controlled. Here in SoCal, CARB is whining about particulate emissions from diesels, as well as nitrogen oxides.

      Of course, particulates, being solid matter, are bound to fall out of the atmosphere, unlike gases, which merely diffuse and dilute. So, naturally, particulates “disproportionately affect the health” of those with V.I.P. (Victim In Perpetuity) cards who live near POLB (Port Of Long Beach), or adjacent to transportation corridors and/or enormous warehouses.

      Oxides of nitrogen, of course, are *inevitable* byproducts of operating air breathing engines at elevated temperatures and pressures, because, y’know, thermodynamics and stuff.

  8. The stock market gained 546 points on Friday.

    That’s great. Somebody is making money.

    If you take a look at real estate investment trusts, they’re actually in a world of hurt at this time.

    City Office, CIO, a real estate trust, was 21 USD January of 2022, it is under $6.00 today. Has an 80 cent dividend, maybe it won’t last, but you can buy and sell at any time.

    Seven Hills, another reit, is not as bad, under $10.00 per share and has a $1.40 dividend, you can buy and hold for seven years and pay back the investment with dividend gains.

    Center Space, 59 USD, was 112 USD, not a great buy, the dividend is 2.80 USD or so. Avoid any of it, CSR is losing $1.33 per share.

    Lument Finance, LFT, is 1.61 USD per share and has a dividend of 24 cents. Not a bad buy and has a low enough price to make some gains.

    The story is real estate trusts are not as healthy these days.

    It is another law of supply and demand, EV’s are being avoided, must be obvious by now, and office building space is being avoided also. Can’t make money if you don’t sell EV’s and you can’t make money if you can’t lease out office space.

    Maybe apples to oranges, but the analogy is warranted.

    Lipstick on a pig or two or three, action figures made in China.

    The stock market is the options board, puts and calls, nothing else. If it’s a bear market, you can still make lots of money.

    If you want to go all Jesse Livermore, you can buy a yacht and then sell it to do it all over again.

    Disclaimer: I do not own any of the stocks mentioned and I do not play the options game. No skin in the game.

    You can get skinned alive.

  9. EVs are a very poor choice as battery technology is still not… ‘there’. Like the Rona,,, they claim its there but it’s really just fake. But because the many are easily fooled (even those that claim they aren’t) they get away with it. Which is why fewer are taking the killer shots and fewer are buying the budget killer EVs.

    Diesel Electric works okay but its complexity requires expensive computer interfaces and other control devices. I know this because I worked on Diesel Electric locomotives and Lectra Haul mining trucks for a steel plant when we used to have production in the US. Remember that? Finding those parts becomes difficult after a couple of years because of the speed of technology change which is usually never backwards compatible. Then add that the average person hasn’t the technical skills or tools/test equipment to repair it and thus has to take it to a ‘shop’ which empties what’s left in your bank account.

    The typical gas/diesel driven auto/truck/18 wheeler is almost the same situation. My son is a ‘truck driver’ and can verify the newer modern trucks are nowhere close to the quality or as dependable as the older trucks. Gee,,, his truck is an automatic! The manufactures claims ownership of the software and some of the electronics.

    One cannot swap out the ECU/BC and other equipment from one make to another. And most manufactures stop producing them after 3-5 years. Even if you find one, like the ECU, it has to be reprogrammed with the VIN of your car and other specifics or things won’t work. Check out the cost of being on GM’s programming site and using their software. The retail test equipment runs at or above $1000. For example the Auto-Enginuity equipment cost me $700 years ago and has paid for itself easily in the last 20 years. Complexity and patents is the name of today’s game and you pay the fare.

    OT: About 40 years ago I started using Marvel Mystery Oil in the fuel and in the oil. Since that time I have had zero fuel systems failure and zero engine problems (knock on wood!)on any of my equipment that use gas or diesel. I use a diesel lubricant + MMO for my Kubota Generator purchased in 1994. Runs like new.

    Bottom line,,, IMO the cost of today’s vehicle complexity outweigh any savings on fuel.

  10. Diesel hybrids are a great idea. There is room for improvement in which combustion cycle is chosen, as an gasoline engine is only 25% efficient in turning the heat value of the fuel into useful work. I think diesels are around 35% efficient – and test models close to 50%. So with a regular gas engine you are throwing away 75% of the value of fuel because of how it is burned and how the heat is used to make work – and thus regular gasoline engines need efficiency improvements – and fuel economy would go through the roof if you could make an ICE engine 50% thermally efficient – like get 100 mpg.

    I am no expert on any of this, but my wife’s 1.8 liter 2004 Toyota Corolla engine is purported to be an Atkinson cycle, and the car gets excellent fuel economy – in the high 30’s, maybe over 40 mpg on the freeway. But her care is a thousand pounds heavier than my Metro, an much heavier than early models.

    Atkinson Cycle Engine (Toyota video)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKKILW3Zj_Y

    I am intrigue by the the one cycle Bourke engine – which is purported to have cool to the touch exhaust. Obviously, if the exhaust of an internal combustion engine is cool, then you are not wasting the heat value of the fuel. You can also tell which vehicle in the wrecking yard got good fuel economy – while going up and down the parted out cars – just look at the size of the radiator. The Chevy Sprint / Geo Metro have tiny radiators compared to everything else – a sure sign that car gets very good fuel economy.

    Bourke Engine – the most efficient engine ever built (they claim)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4bNOLdhchA

    In fact, if you own a Metro and you look at an older Ford or Jeep radiator, you jaw drops in aghast – Jeeeezzzuuuss look at the size of that radiator – you wonder – thanking your lucky stars your wallet is not married to that radiator.

    The Bourke engine is also extremely simple – and can be disassembled with one wrench.

    Bourke 10 CID engine exploded
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHVsTwgNjoo

    Until super efficient cars hit the market, I will stick will my little Geo which gets around 60 mpg – which is phenomenal – but also based on my hypermiling driving habits. So another way to improve efficiency is to change how the car accelerates and decellerates – minimizing energy loss from moving the mass around – which also means a car fuel economy can be improved by removing mass with lighter materials.
    There are cars that weigh only 1500 lbs. That means those cars can be propelled by smaller engines.

    I note that many hybrids have their engines off at traffic lights – and a hypermiling technique is to turn the engine off while coasting downhill – because those miles are infinity mpg – which improves the overall mpg for the trip. Another big area for improvement is CdA – the drag area. Newtons law of motion – once an object is in motion it tends to stay in motion – which means flying down the highway you are only burning fuel to overcome air resistance.

    Believe it or not, the air drag on the car has huge impact on mpg, as shown in this chart:

    https://metrompg.com/posts/photos/mpg-vs-speed-chart-z.gif

    As you can see in the chart, a stock Geo Metro at 60 mpg gets 49 mpg. But if you slow way the hell down to 45 mph, the mpg goes way the hell up to over 65 mpg – which is what I do – which is why at the end of the week when I fill my tank I get around 60 mpg overall.

    But who the hell wants to drive slow besides hypermiling nerds? No one! Get the hell out of my way geo, I am late for my Starbucks double shot!

  11. Re: Even though diesel fuel is more expensive than gasoline fuel.
    It used to be far less expensive than gas until the EPA regulated diesel fuel sulfur content and therefore ‘lubrication properties’ down to a ridiculous 15ppm, in 2006.
    A lot of my contractor associates that exclusively ran fleets of diesel trucks are now switching to gas trucks and throwing them away at 100K (or whatever $ they can get for them).
    They told me they used to run diesels to 200-300K with no issues, then get a new one.
    They said a modern diesel is lucky to go 100K without major repair costs (EGR systems, fuel pump, etc…) around $10-20K, which makes them cost too much to run.
    It just didn’t make economical sense and the time in the shop was unacceptable.
    One could argue that the ’emissions or environment’ of throwing trucks away at 100K vs 200-300K is far worse than what we used to have a mere 15yrs ago. But of course we all know here that it’s not about the environment.

    • Yes, Chris, I wonder what ultra-low-sulfur diesel does to older engines, where the mechanical injection pump depends on the fuel passing through it for lubrication. My Dad had one tractor that actually had lubricating oil in it. You had to change it just like engine oil.

      • low sulfur fuels have less lubricity, and tend to wear injectors and pumps faster. Running modern fuel in a real (mechanical) diesel is pretty easy, you just remember to treat the fuel regularly with something like Howes or Powerservice, and/or occasionally add some filtered transmission fluid or engine oil.

        The newer electronic diesels made in the last 20 years are horrendously expensive to repair, injectors run $800+ each, in a Duramax or Powerstroke and injector service will cost you $4000 and up. Whereas my beloved old mechanical diesels usually can rebuild injectors and pumps for a fraction of that.

  12. The answer to many questions of “why is this [fill in the blank] mandated” is rent seeking through political influence.

    Who profits from the banishment of auto diesels?
    Who profits from all EV?

    The answer isn’t the environment, that’s an excuse.

    • All those “renewable” sources are financed a lot like timeshares. You buy a share of a wind farm, or even a fraction of an individual windmill, that will start paying government mandated guaranteed dividends as soon as it goes into production. Not only that but you greenwash your portfolio and high energy consumption lifestyle. So of course you want to get as much stuff consuming electricity as possible.

  13. I spent quite a few years working in diesel-electric-battery hybrid buildings. Of course in that case the diesel engine was only there in case the main AC input to the -48V DC plant dropped out, but it was handy to have a second source on a few occations when power work needed to be done. There were a few times when we had a major crisis in the building but our customers never knew, because the diesel engine was supplying power while the power boys fixed their outage.

    Now imagine if you ran out of fuel on the highway, but your batteries held enough reserve to get you to the next exit. Or the battery system’s magic smoke stuff escapes, but your ICE would keep you going until you can get to the shop. I doubt hybrids are set up this way, but imagine if they were. What was a problem (hauling around two power plants) becomes an advantage.

  14. >Chevy Volt. The latter used the engine to keep the batteries charged and the motors propelled the car.
    Well, that is the *intelligent* way to do it, AFAIK.
    B’cuz, as we all know, electric motors have torque out the wazoo from zero RPM, unlike IC engines, which need to make RPM in order to make torque and horsepower.

    You probably already know this, but major mining equipment generally works the same way as diesel-electric railroad locomotives, i.e. a massive onboard diesel engine which generates electricity to power electric motors which operate the equipment.

    Personally, I have a sentimental attachment to the Age of Steam (not “steampunk,” actual steam).

    Here you go: 🙂
    https://2926.us

    • A lot of that heavy equipment runs on hydraulics; the diesel engine runs a pump that powers the bucket, etc. and the treads for forward/reverse motion.

  15. Much easier to control people if they’re tethered to an electrical outlet. Can’t have all the worthless eaters going where and when they want. Much harder to hit a moving target.
    Imagine what might have been done to improve Hybrids, if all the FedGov money thrown at EVs was thrown at the already vastly superior Hybrids.
    What they’ve done to diesel is a criminal act. Especially as regards private transportation. Leaving aside the safety issue. In WWII the US Sherman tanks were nicknamed Ronsons (a popular cigarette lighter of the day), because they always lit on the first try, being gasoline fueled. German tanks used diesel, and had no such issue. I’ve thrown a lit match into a bucket of diesel, trying to light it, and the match went out.

  16. You don’t drill oil wells with fuels, well, you do. There is a diesel generator that powers an electric motor that turns the drill pipe down the hole.

    Computer-controlled continuous motion drilling rigs use electricity to do the work.

    Another electro-motive application.

    Drilling for oil is an occupation. Makes sense, there is insatiable demand for oil.

    No need to wonder why. Whoopee, we’re all gonna die.

    Noam Chamsky is apparently a cad and a numbskull.

    whoddathunkit?

  17. ‘Highly efficient, highly economical, very affordable diesels make inefficient, uneconomic and unaffordable EVs look like synthetic meat compared with grass-fed steak.’ — eric

    EeeVee Fever, like the recent pandemic emergency, soon will be over, leaving mountains of social wreckage in its wake.

    Meanwhile, the world is splitting into US/NATO and BRICS blocs. BRICS countries cannot avoid noticing that cheap and plentiful energy is what made the West rich. Diesel engines will remain an essential component of transport in BRICS economies, while decadent westerners get stuck beside the highway in their EeeVee big rigs because it got cold or snowed or something. Who coulda knowwwwwwed?

    Countries that want to advance their living standards and ensure their national security can only laugh sardonically at America’s lurid, degenerate freak show.

    Hahhhhhvid lawyer Jennifer Granholm, who wouldn’t know an amp from a volt if you jolted her fat ass with a cattle prod, testified before the Senate to advocate an all-electric vehicle fleet in the U.S. military by the 2030s.

    That’s monster raving loony … a fantasy for Bud Light swilling tranny surrender monkeys. But it’s great news for the non-insane bloc of countries, as America self-destructs.

  18. Ask Warren Buffett about the efficiency of diesel electric locomotives. He owns a railroad while simultaneously planning to get “a piece of the action” of the all EV future.

    The annual meeting happens today in Omaha.

  19. >Hybrids cars – most of them – are not exactly the same in that the gas engine also turns the wheels

    Eric,
    Are you sure about this? I believe you have got it wrong. I got to ride in one of the very first Toyota Prius (before the redesign with the high taillights). The main distinguishing feature of the car was the absence of a driveshaft tunnel, because the car had no driveshaft.

    As far as I understand the concept, the main idea of a hybrid is to run an IC engine at constant speed (which is the most efficient way to operate the engine), use the engine to generate electricity, and use electric motor(s) to drive the wheels. This also allows the possibility of regenerative braking, which is only possible if electric motors are used to drive the wheels.

    “Plug in” hybrids are distinguished from “non plug in” hybrids by the capability of charging the onboard battery from an external source of electricity. Other than that, the power train works the same way.

    Do you have a different understanding?

    • Hi Adi,

      Yes, I am certain. As regards the Prius – and all other hybrids except the Chevy Volt. The latter used the engine to keep the batteries charged and the motors propelled the car.

      In other hybrids, the engine serves as both a generator and propulsion. It is cycled off by the system as often as possible (as during coasting, deceleration and “idling”) and then coming on when power is needed to move the vehicle (or move it faster). Some plug-in EVs can be driven at normal road speeds for up to about 30 miles. But the genius of the thing is that when the charge runs low, the engine comes back on – and takes over recharging and propelling the vehicle.

      FYI: You would not see a driveshaft as (typically) most hybrids are FWD.

      • “The latter used the engine to keep the batteries charged and the motors propelled the car.”
        Which on the face of it appears to be a better option, since there is none of the constant switching from one to the other, and as Adi points out, the generating engine is always running at efficient RPM. Trains haven’t been running on this model for several decades because it isn’t efficient.

    • Hi Adi,
      Not surprisingly, Eric has it exactly right. Toyota hybrids have a single electric motor, and it is built into the drivetrain. When our ’23 Corolla is sitting in the garage and I press the “Power” button, the gas engine might or might not start (hence the button not being labeled “Start/Stop”). I assume its behavior is mainly dependent on the battery’s state of charge, but it will also start if you’re calling for cabin heat, since the engine coolant is the only heat source. We have a long private driveway that winds up the hill about 800 feet. Sometimes the engine doesn’t start until I get on the county road. The start/stop is very smooth, and it doesn’t make the usual starter noise. I’m not sure how the starter motor connects to the crank, but it almost sounds belt-driven. It is imperceptible while driving.
      At the end of every trip, the instrument panel displays various stats, including mpg. On the same short (<5 miles) trip, it has varied from 35 mpg to 80 mpg. Again, I assume this depends mostly on the state of battery charge at the beginning. One time I drove the back way through parking lots in town to go almost a mile from the DMV to Harbor Freight, and it registered 99.9 mpg because it ran the whole way on just the electric motor.

      • “I’m not sure how the starter motor connects to the crank”
        If the car is in motion, there is no need for a starter motor to start the engine. Remember in days of old when you could tow, push, or coast a car to start it? All that is needed is for the engine to be mechanically or hydraulically connected to the drive train.

        • Hi John,
          I doubt that it’s using the momentum of the car to start the engine. Seems like you’d be able to feel that, unless the electric motor were able to instantly and smoothly compensate for the momentary engine braking. Even when the car is stationary, you never hear that familiar “starter” sound on startup. Really no noise at all except for the engine coming to life.
          Speaking of towing, there are warnings in the books about not towing this thing with any of the wheels on the ground, but I think that might have more to do with it being AWD than hybrid.

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