1921 Owen  
An overview of the hybrid's past  
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When were hybrid vehicles invented?

While hybrid vehicles are relatively new to the automobile market, its original concept dates back to the late 1800s. General Electric, then a manufacturer of electric cars, and had built a gas-electric hybrid that featured a 4-cylinder engine in 1899.(Hall, 2006)

In the early 1900s, electric cars had outsold gas-powered ones. This encouraged engineers to develop hybrid vehicles. In 1904, Ferdinand Porsche built a vehicle that housed electric motors in the front wheel hubs while the gasoline engine provided the power.(Hall, 2006) In 1905, American engineer H.Piper filed a patent for a gas-electric hybrid vehicle in which an electric motor would assist an internal combustion engine to improve acceleration. Five years later, Commercial Vehicles developed a truck that used a 4-cylinder gas engine to power a generator, thus eliminating the need for a battery pack and transmission. And in 1916, electric car makers Baker of Cleveland and Woods of Chicago produced hybrid cars. Woods claimed that their hybrids could reach speeds of 35 mph with a fuel efficiency of 48 miles per gallon.(hybridcars.com, 2006)

In the meantime, the Ford Motor Company had become more efficient in manufacturing low cost, lightweight gasoline-powered cars. And once the self-starting engine had been developed in 1913, electric cars soon become obsolete. (hybridcars.com, 2006)

Interest in the electric car was renewed in the 1960s when public officials declared that the pollution caused by internal combustion engines was a threat to public health. And when the oil crises of the 1970s caused gas prices to soar, congress passed the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development & Demonstration Act of 1976. This legislation brought industry and government engineers together and provided the funding to make today's hybrid technology possible. (Hall, 2006)


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