Hybrid Cars - Can they run w/o gas?

The hybrid vehicles on the road in the US today (Honda Insight & Civic Hybrid, Toyota Prius) have two engines, a regular ol’ combustion engine as well as an electric motor. My main question is: Can you drive these cars without gasoline in the tank, i.e. solely on the electric batteries?

One of the defining features of these cars is that they start moving under electric power only (unless you goose it), so I know it’s technically possible. Any dopers got one to test out? Also, how fast/far would you be able to go under electric power only?

Well, I don’t feel like trying this on my Prius, but the manual clearly states that the car will not run without any gasoline. I’m almost positive that it won’t start without gas, and if you run out while it’s running, I’m not sure what will happen.

I’ve never really tried to see how far it will roll on electric power only before the gas engine kicks in, usually just a few feet before I step on the accelerator. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t use the gas engine at all when in reverse.

Good question.
I only know about the very early prototypes, which always ran on battery power and used the little gas engine to power a battery charger.
How do they couple two dissimilar motors to the same transmission at the same time?
Peace,
mangeorge

We have a Prius, and the owner’s manual says NOT to drive it if it runs out of gas…IIRC, that would constitute abuse, and void the warranty. Hence, I am NOT willing to try it!

You can go pretty far on electric power alone, but you have to have a pretty light touch on the pedal, else the gas engine fires up to provide additional acceleration. As for speed, I’ve had it on electric only at about 40 MPH on level ground.

Uhhm if you run exclusively on electric power, dont you put yourself in the electric car vehicle class instead of the hybrid?

Hybrid cars use the gas engine to recharge the battery or run in stop and go traffic. The electric engine runs better on the open road without all the stops and starts.

Electric cars are possible, we’ve had them in california for years now.

http://www.gmev.com/specs/specs.htm

and here the hybrid one

http://www.toyota.com/html/shop/vehicles/prius/

Might as well have one more link
All your questions answered. From howstuffworks.com.