Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


Conventional, Hybrid and Electrical Vehicles: What’s the Difference?

hybrid cars

Hybrid cars are better for our environmentl

“Things are slowly changing and, as our power grid across the U.S. changes, so will the energy available to the cars.”

By Linn Smith

September 6, 2017—-I drive a hybrid car and have been asked many times if I have to put gas in it. The answer is yes. The term, hybrid, has gotten more complicated in the past several years, as now there are hybrid gas-electric no plug-ins, gas-electric plug-ins and all electric vehicles. Conventional cars, which burn gas and diesel, release toxic fumes into our atmosphere, exacerbating illnesses such as asthma.
Though hybrids may still leave a carbon footprint in the manufacturing process, and with the source of electricity used to energize the electric engine, they still have a future of burning clean. As solar replaces the conventional sources of power in the production of these vehicles and clean energy is produced for our power plants, the carbon footprint decreases.

Hybrid cars

Hybrid vs Electric

Types of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles

Here is the breakdown in types of hybrids and electrical cars:

1. Conventional Vehicles: Use gas or diesel fuel.

2. Hybrid no plug-in vehicles: A hybrid is a car that draws energy from 2 or more sources. These cars have a regular combustion engine and battery just like a conventional car, but they also have an electric motor and battery. They are never plugged in to outlets. According to, “The Prius uses an advanced charging system that allows the battery to tap into power from the Prius’ gasoline engine while using kinetic force from braking to generate additional electricity.” The electrical engine is powered by the gas engine, plus the braking system, and kicks in when driving slowly or idling, which makes it fuel efficient and reduces emissions. These cars aren’t considered electric cars, as they rely on gas for their energy. I average about 48 mpg with mine.

3. Plug-in hybrids: These cars are considered electric hybrid cars, as they rely on a conventional outlet for power plus gas. They combine a gas engine with an electric motor and a plugin rechargeable battery. They can be plugged in to a regular 12 volt outlet, allowing then to drive miles on the energy from that outlet. When the electric battery is depleted then the conventional engine kicks in, operating on gas.

Tesla Model X

Tesla All Electric cars

4. All Electric vehicles: The batteries of these cars are charged using grid electricity. They can use a 12 volt outlet or a charging unit, like the units Tesla has installed across the U.S. They are powered entirely by electricity. The gasoline engine is replaced by an electric motor which gets its power from a controller which is powered by the rechargeable battery. The controller takes in 300 volts DC and converts it into a maximum of 240 volts AC to send to the motor.

The Environmental Impact of Cars

Many people will argue that electric cars are beneficial to the environment only if the electrical source is from renewable energy. This is true, but things are slowly changing and, as our power grid across the U.S. changes, so will the energy available to the cars. Keep fossil fuels in the ground!

Hybrids and Electric Cars

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Tesla Motors: Creating a Sustainable Vision for our Future

The future is open to the advancement of electric vehicles.

Musk has opened the patents, held by Tesla, to the public.

“We believe that by applying the open source philosophy to our patents, it will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.” Elon Musk

By Linn Smith

July 8, 2014—If you haven’t heard about Tesla Motors you’re missing some outstanding work by a company that supports clean energy vehicles. Tesla is an independent automaker, who is striving to eventually offer electric cars at prices affordable to the average consumer.

Regenerative Braking

In an article by Christy Lewis at, she describes driving a Tesla Model S electric car over Teton Pass in Wyoming. The Tesla started out charged with the capacity to go 263 miles. As it climbed the mountain, it lost a little range capacity, but still maintained 245 miles of power and, at the top of the mountain, the Tesla had 220 miles of range capacity left. The Tesla car only lost 25 miles of range capacity in a 6 mile climb. Then, as it declined the 10 miles down to the bottom of the pass, the Tesla gained a 5 mile range due to braking.

Lewis states, “Driving an electric or hybrid vehicle up steep mountain passes can decrease the efficiency because you are not driving ‘ideally’. However, this Tesla trip shows that the effects of regenerative braking negate some of the less than ideal effects of driving up a steep grade. Overall, the Tesla traveled 110 miles and only lost 14 miles off the “ideal” range.”

Telsa opens its patents to the future.

Regenerative braking down the pass adds to the Tesla’s milage capacity.

Lewis describes how the regenerative braking system of the Tesla works, lengthening the time between charges. “If you are coasting down hill in a vehicle, your wheels accumulate a large amount of kinetic energy. As you go faster, and need to brake, all of that kinetic energy is lost as heat to the atmosphere in the traditional gasoline burning vehicle. In electric vehicles or hybrids, the electric motor runs backwards to brake the car when you press on the brake pedal. As the motor runs backwards, it acts as an electric generator, and produces electricity that goes straight to the car’s battery. So every time a hybrid or electric vehicle brakes, it is essentially charging its own battery!”

Opening The Door to Tesla’s Patents

On June 12, 2014, a statement by Elon Musk, CEO and Chairman of the Board at Tesla, was released providing open access to Tesla’s technology. Musk stated, “Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology. Tesla Motors was created to accelerate the advent of sustainable transportation. If we clear a path to the creation of compelling electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal. Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”

He also noted that electric car sales by major car companies are less then 1% of their total sales, and it is impossible for Tesla to build cars fast enough to address the current climate change crises attributed to burning fossil fuels.

Tesla has opened its patents up to all manufactures and engineers, in hopes that the technology to combat global warming will accelerate to meet the demand for reducing fossil fuels. “Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be a small protection against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that by applying the open source philosophy to our patents, it will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.”

Tesla Motors and Elon Musk get it! Either we work towards saving our planet for future generations or we don’t! Maybe it’s time car manufacturers stop thinking about profits and start thinking about our future!

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The Elio Vehicle : Made In the U.S.A, $6800 and 84 mpg!

Safe and easy to maintain, the Elio is a step towards reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

84 mpg and $6800 new this car is a new innovation in transportation.

By Lin Smith

The Elio: Inexpensive and High MPG

March 23, 2014–The Elio is a ray of hope, as an alternative, to the monstrous, fossil guzzling vehicles currently on the highway. It’s not electric and it’s not hybrid (and it’s not exactly a car) but it is an affordable means of transportation at 84 mpg and $6800 brand new. You’ll be spotting these eye catchers in the 1st quarter of 2015, but you can reserve one today with a downpayment of $100, along with the reportedly 10,000 people already on the reserve list.

What’s an Elio?

On Elio’s Website,, they state, “Elio is not a fling. It is not a novelty. It is a product of a mobile society, naturally evolving to a more efficient and practical form of transportation.” Paul Elio is an engineer, founder and CEO of Elio Motors. With 3 wheels it’s kind of a car, yet kind of a motorcycle. The AAMVA (American Association of Motor Vehicles) wants to change the classification of what constitutes a motorcycle to better accommodate the Elio. Currently, it is the number of wheels, which would make the vehicle a motorcycle. The AAMVA is seeking to change this classification to the type of seats and the type of steering wheel, a round wheel or handlebars. A seat with a back and a steering wheel would be called an autocycle and treated as a car, requiring a driver’s license. The AAMVA has drawn up the documents and, even though they don’t have the power to change laws, they will be admitted to the DMV where the law can be changed.

Stats for the Elio

Mpg: 84 Highway miles
Seats: 2 one of which will lay down for stowing gear
Colors: 8 different colors including Licorice, Sour Apples, Rocket Silver and Marshmallow
Cylinders: 3
Hp: 55
8-Gallon Tank (672 miles to the tank!)
Anticipated 5 Star Crash Test Rating: 3 air bags, Anti-Lock Braking, and reinforced roll-cage
5-speed manual or automatic
Heat and Air
Standard Features: Power windows, tempered glass, AM/FM radio, front-wheel drive

Production of the Elio

The Elio Company is based in Phoenix but the car will be manufactured in Louisiana, 95% of parts being made in the U.S.A, and creating 1500 jobs with more as they grow. The maintenance cost is predicted to be low, with most parts already in production, and purchasing of parts easy to obtain at your local auto parts store.

Paul Elio says, ” My dream has been to build a new kind of safe, reliable, fuel-efficient vehicle here in the U.S,” and it looks like he’s accomplished it. It’s not a no-carbon footprint car, but it certainly is a lower-carbon footprint car!