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author photo by Autotrader December 2007

Battery — In a hybrid car, the batteries receive the energy from the generator(s) and then provide the electricity for the electric motor.

Biodiesel — A blending of vegetable oil and traditional diesel.

Cylinder Shut-Off — A process wherein a computer senses when you are driving at a level speed, without increased power needs (e.g. towing a large load), and shuts off one or two cylinders of the engine, thus reducing the amount of fuel being consumed. Once you increase the power (push the gas pedal), all of the cylinders instantly engage. In most cases, the computer cycles the cylinders to ensure all of them receive equal time-off so as to not wear down some cylinders faster than others.

Diesel — A heavy oil that is used as a fuel. Provides approximately 40% better fuel economy than gasoline. It combusts when it is compressed and a heat source is applied to it.

Ethanol — In the U.S., it is derived from grain or corn. In other countries, sugar cane is an additional widely used organic source. Produces less environmental impact when burned but does not burn as efficiently as or produce as much energy as gasoline.

E85 — A mix of 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol.

Electric Generator — In a hybrid car, the electric generator is used to capture (recapture) energy from the act of braking. The captured energy is used to power batteries for the electric motor.

Electric Motor — In a hybrid car, the electric motor is used to power the vehicle when minimal horsepower is required.

Flexible Fuel Vehicle — Any vehicle capable of running on more than one type of fuel. Currently, the most popular in the U.S. is the combination of gasoline and E85 ethanol.

Fuel cell vehicle — Runs on electricity produced from a hydrogen-oxygen reaction in its fuel "cell stack."

Gasoline — Motor fuel produced when “natural gasoline” is separated from crude oil then blended and refined. It combusts when it is compressed and an electrical spark is introduced.

HOV — “High Occupancy Vehicle”

Hybrid — Any vehicle combining two or more sources of power, usually an on-board energy source and a fueled power source. Hybrid electric vehicles, which combine the power of a gasoline engine and electric motor, are the most prolific example.

Hydrogen — Supplies roughly three times the energy of gasoline and can be used as a fuel; however, must be stored in very large tanks, as hydrogen is in liquid form is not very dense.

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (or Propane) — Produced during the processing of crude oil, or collected from gas wells. Is a gas, but can be compressed to a liquid. Used as a fuel and a heat source in homes.

LEV — “Low Emission Vehicle”

Methanol — A highly flammable alcohol-based liquid that can be blended with gasoline to produce a cleaner-burning fuel.

Natural Gas — Produced during the processing of crude oil or collected from gas wells. Used in the residential, commercial, industrial, and utility markets. Burns cleanly as a fuel, but must be stored onboard a vehicle.

P-Series Fuel — (the “P” stands for “pentanes plus”) Mainly a blend of natural gas liquids and ethanol with some solvents.

Regenerative braking — In a gasoline-electric hybrid, this refers to the process in which the electric motor is used to recapture energy to power the battery when the brake pedal is pressed.

SULEV — “Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle”

ULEV — “Ultra Low Emission Vehicle”

Vegetable Oil — Diesel engines can be converted to run on vegetable oil because of its similar fuel properties to diesel. Once problems such as high viscosity are overcome, vegetable oil may eventually become a substitute for diesel fuel on a broader scale.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Alternatives A to Z - Autotrader