Mastering the new lingo – parallel vs. series hybrid

chevy-volt-concept-07’s Autotopia blog has a cool post of five auto-related terms that will be dying out soon along with five new terms that we’ll need to become familiar with. You’ll soon be forgetting terms like gas pedal, MPG, throttle, transmission and tachometer. Here’s one of the new ones:

Parallel vs. series hybrid – These terms have so far been relegated to the geeks, but as the industry progresses and hybrids of all stripes become more common, you’ll want to know the difference. They refer to how the gasoline engine and electric motor are configured. A parallel hybrid like the Toyota Prius uses a traditional transmission to couple the gasoline engine and electric motor to the wheels. Such vehicles use internal combustion and electricity to drive the wheels. A series hybrid like the Chevrolet Volt does away with the transmission because the engine drives a generator that takes over when the battery runs down. The electric motor is the only thing driving the wheels. Many see the series hybrid as the “true” hybrid configuration minimizing energy loss due to wasteful idle engine spinning friction.

Also, get ready to hear the following terms as well: Lithium-ion battery, continuous vs. peak power, kilowatt-hour vs. kilowatt and drive-by-wire.


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