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History of Hybrid Technology

Hybrid Car Schematic

History

Most of us think hybrid technology as a recent idea. But hybrids have been around longer than you may think. In fact, hybrid technology is as old as cars themselves.

Until recently, as higher gasoline prices, diminishing oil supplies and concern on environment and pollution increase, manufacturers have begun to seriously look into these systems again and hybrid cars gaining popularity and acceptance.First official milestone of hybrid technology is a patent application filed by American engineer H. Piper for a gasoline engine-electric motor powertrain, a hybrid in November 23, 1905.

Unlike today his hybrid design wasn't to increase a vehicle's fuel mileage and lower its emissions. According to the patent application, an electric motor would supplement a gasoline engine, allowing a vehicle to accelerate from zero to 25 miles an hour in a sizzling 10 seconds, three times faster than contemporary cars. Unfortunately by the time the patent was issued three and a half years later, cars had become powerful enough to achieve or exceed the same performance.

Although Mr. Piper filled the first hybrid patent application but he wasn't the first person with the idea of Hybrid. There were other important contributors to hybrid technology during this time. During 1897 to 1907 the Compagnie Parisienne des Voitures Electriques (the Paris Electric Car Company), an important early contributor to electric car technology, built a series of electric and hybrid vehicles, including the 1903 Krieger. It was built with front-drive and power steering. One model ran on alcohol, and there was another version with what has been described as a gasoline-turbine engine; in those times, the term "turbine" sometimes meant "generator."General Electric also produced electric cars in 1898 and 1899 and built a hybrid with a four-cylinder gasoline engine in 1899.

During the same time frame, Jacob Lohner & Co., in Austria, was building electric cars and one of the employees was an inventive young engineer named Ferdinand Porsche. He devised a system in which the electric motors were one and the same with the wheel hubs, thus eliminating the troublesome componentry of complicated transmissions to deliver the power directly to the wheels. These were known as Lohner-Porsches, and later the company produced a line of vehicles in which a gasoline engine drove a generator, which in turn provided the electrical juice for the electric motors. This is the classic, conceptually fundamental hybrid.

The Siemens-Schuckert Company in Berlin, Germany, primarily built electric cars and commercial vehicles, but built some hybrids until it stopped production in 1910.

The Woods Motor Vehicle Company in Chicago produced the 1917 Woods Dual Power, a parallel hybrid with a four-cylinder gasoline engine. It could make only 20 mph running solely as an electric, but with the gasoline engine adding its 12 horsepower was good for 35. Another Chicago firm, the Walker Vehicle Company, built both electric and gasoline-electric trucks, from around 1918 to the early 1940s. In Ontario, Canada, in 1914 the Galt Motor Company rolled out the Galt Gas Electric, a pure series hybrid that featured a two-cylinder, two-stroke engine of 10 horsepower driving a 40-volt, 90-amp Westinghouse generator. It was claimed the Galt could wring 70 miles from one gallon of gasoline or, alternately, do 15 to 20 miles on the battery alone. But a top speed of about 30 mph sent potential buyers to more powerful, speedier alternatives.

From around 1890 to 1920, the peck of early hybrid revelation, there were more than 100 makers of electric cars in the U.S. and Canada. Top names in the industry included Columbia Manufacturing, Riker Electric Motor Company of America, Electric Vehicle Company, Detroit Electric, Rauch & Lang, Studebaker, S.R. Bailey Co., Milburn Wagon Company and Baker Electric Company.By 1920, the electric vehicle started to disappear, and consequently, so did the interest and development of hybrid powertrains.

Up until 1960s, hybrid automobiles were relegated to the automaker and inventors. Then, in the late 1960s, the serious public health effect from use of internal combustion engines became more concerned and public official reprehending the auto industry for it, which renewed interest in the electric vehicle.

In 1966, U.S. Congress introduced first bills recommending use of electric vehicles as a means of reducing air pollution. As a result American Motors, General Motors and Ford each unveiled passenger car prototypes during 1967 and 1968. Among those cars GM unclouded experimental 512 hybrid, a tiny two-seater with a 12-cubic-inch gasoline engine connected to a series DC electric motor.

The oil crises of 1973 and 1979 prompted another flurry of activity during the mid 1970s and into the '80s. The Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development & Demonstration Act of 1976 not only brought government and industry research engineers together, it also brought federal funding in Hybrid research. A number of hybrid vehicles—not all of them gasoline-electric—were built and tested during this time.During 1977 – 1979 General Motors spent over $20 million in electric car development and research, reporting that electric vehicles could be in production by the mid-1980s.In 1991, the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), a Department of Energy program, launched a major program to produce a “super” battery to get viable electric vehicles on the road as soon as possible.

The USABC would go on to invest more than $90 million in the nickel hydride (NiMH) battery. The NiMH battery can accept three times as many charge cycles as lead-acid, and can work better in cold weather.The oil embargoes affected not only USA but also all major world economies which prompted hybrid research around the world too.

Environmental and smog pollution was already a major problem in large cities. In Germany, Volkswagen responded with a hybrid Microbus taxi with a system very similar to those used in today's offerings. In Japan, most engineering development focused on electrics, but Toyota built a prototype gasoline turbine engined hybrid, and Mazda produced a diesel engine hybrid truck called the Titan.In 1990, state of California adopted rules requiring car companies to sell certain percentage of “Zero Emission Vehicles" (ZEVs), which significantly influenced on the advancement of electrics and hybrids vehicle.But USA wasn't the first country to offer hybrid vehicles to mass population.

In mid-December 1997 Toyota began offering a hybrid automobile, the Prius to the general public for the Japan home market.It took almost a century after the hybrid was first conceived; more than 25 years after development work began on them in earnest, and after more than hundreds of millions had been spent worldwide and after many many prototypes.In USA market, Honda introduced its two-seat Insight hybrid in 2000, and the Prius followed several months later. In 2002 Honda introduces the Honda Civic Hybrid , its second commercially available hybrid gasoline-electric car. The appearance and drivability of the Civic Hybrid was identical to the conventional Civic which help gain hybrid popularity.In September 2004, Ford releases the Escape Hybrid , the first American hybrid and the first SUV hybrid. Other automakers, both domestic and foreign, also follow the hybrid trend and popularity. Now we have more options than ever including Sedan, SUVs, Trucks, Luxury vehicles etc. To know about current and upcoming hybrid vehicles, visit:

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