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Diesel Hybrid Cars: Will They Catch On like Mainstream Hybrid Cars? Ford Thinks So.


Four years ago, hybrid cars were rarely seen on roads and freeways. However, as more people noticed and realized the great advantages eco-friendly cars offer and the savings they provide, more and more hybrid cars are now plying our roads. So much so that hybrid cars are now as mainstream as the conventional engine cars we are used to. However, it wouldn't be a surprise if new developments and innovations come out to further develop the existing hybrid technology or to provide new technologies.


Many stories and rumors have circulated in the motor world about different discoveries and concepts that can further revolutionize hybrid technology in motor vehicles. However, many questions have also arisen about why certain pre-existing technologies have not been incorporated with the hybrid innovation, including the diesel hybrid concept.


Diesel engines have been vastly popular in Europe and Asia. While North America has not embraced the diesel engine as much as its overseas neighbors, developments have been made in the United States to eliminate the characteristics that have made it a poor choice here. Recent developments have eliminated the excessive smoke generated and the loud rattling noises of the engines. Additionally, biodiesel fuel has had a growing following and is seen as a solution to save the depletion of natural resources like oil. Combining hybrid technology and the new biodiesel fuel seems to be a better solution to our growing problems. Biodiesel is now cleaner and is also cheaper than regular gasoline.


While there have been no serious research and development done on diesel hybrid cars just yet, Ford released a diesel hybrid concept car at the North American Auto show in Detroit on January 10, 2006. Ford dubbed it as the Reflex sportscar. This car is infused with a power source that uses a combination of a diesel engine, an electric motor, and solar panels. Additionally, the Ford Reflex is an all-wheel-drive car that Ford claims gets 65 miles to a gallon.


The Reflex, which could be the basis for future diesel hybrid cars, operates much the same way as gas/electric hybrid cars. It also has a hybrid battery pack to provide backup power to the car that gets recharged by the engine and the heat generated by braking. The diesel hybrid car by Ford uses lithium-ion batteries, the same kind used by the latest gadgets today, such as cellular phones and portable computers. Most hybrid cars use nickel-metal hydride batteries because they are far cheaper, but lithium-ion batteries have far more power capacity.


The Reflex also extracts power from solar cells located inside the headlamps and taillamps, a technology patented by Ford. There are also solar cells placed on the roof of the car that provides power to fans that operate inside the car to cool the interior when it is parked under the hot sun.


We can only wait until hybrid diesel car technology is more available. Until then, we can wait until diesel fuel can provide the same power as gasoline fuel. But when the technology is refined, we can all be sure that diesel hybrid cars will surely catch on, and we will be seeing them more often.


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