What is Hybrid Synergy Drive?

BY Scott C. Benjamin / POSTED September 30, 2009
Hammerbrook - City can this really be true?
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Toyota's hybrid cars use a system that Toyota calls Hybrid Synergy Drive. (Courtesy of Toyota)

Hybrid Cars. I know they’ve been a popular choice over the past several years, but it truly seems like they’re all over the place now. Hybrids are a common sight on the roadways, they’re parked in plenty of garages and driveways and the next time you’re at the mall, the local park or the grocery store take a look around you when you’re in the parking lot — they’re everywhere.

So with that kind of saturation, I’m pretty confident that you’ve seen the little badge I’m thinking about right now. It’s the small silver badge that’s found on the rear end of every one of Toyota’s hybrid cars. It says “Hybrid Synergy Drive” and the left side looks like an “H,” the middle forms an “S” via a curvy vertical blue band and there’s a “D” shape on the far right, too. You’ve seen that one, right? But the badge isn’t really what’s important here — it’s the system that the badge represents that’s critical.

Now, despite whatever it is you may think is happening in a car with Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive, I can assure you that there’s no magic or some other kind of unexplained phenomenon going on under the hood. But it is pretty smart.

The key to the whole system is something Toyota calls a Power Split Device. That’s just another way to say it’s a planetary gearset — a series of gears that, in this case, work together to divide (or split) the power that the gasoline engine produces between the generator and the drivetrain. It connects the gasoline engine with the electric motor and the generator. Obviously, that’s an extremely simplified version of what’s really going on, because the Hybrid Synergy Drive system is taking advantage of the strongest characteristics of the gas engine and the electric motor and combining them into one highly efficient drive system.

Now if you’re still hungry for more information (and I’m pretty sure you are), this Quick Guide will get you up to speed on just about everything you probably want to know about Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy Drive. Don’t forget to click on the “How It Works” and “Benefits” buttons at the top, too.

More related stuff:
Hybrid Car Information
How Hybrid Cars Work
How the Toyota Prius Works
Fuel Efficiency

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