The hybrid car seems to be a fairly recent innovation, generally combining the environmentally-friendly aspects of electricity as a fuel, and the more reliable performance of petrol. It would be a surprise to many to learn, however, that the idea of combining different fuel methods for a vehicle was not a modern conception, and that the theory applied today (to great relief against environmental and economic issues) dates back before the modern car itself was invented.
The story of the hybrid dates back to 1665, when Ferdinand Verbiest, a priest and astronomer, planned to designing a ‘four-wheeled, self-moving wagon, powered by steam’. This has only been a historical claim, though, and no official records state if it ever got past the planning stage. The first working version was conceived by Frenchman Nicholas Cugnot, in the year 1769, and though his design worked, it was incapable of going faster then 6mph, and there was not enough fuel space for a long journey. The following centry saw two more efforts, this time using new power source electricity, but the designs of both Robert Anderson (1839, lack of battery charge), and Sir David Salomon (1870, speed and range) were flawed.
It would be the mid-20th century when a valid and efficiant product was released, when car company Motorola teamed up with American electrical engineer Victor Wouk to try and find a road product to combat the growing air pollution problem caused by petrol car emissions. In 1974, after a 12-year process a prototype was built, combining the large size of a petrol/gas-powered engine with the low-emission electric-powering method, fitted to what looks like a regular car. Wouk would be credited with the invention of the hybrid car, and would go on in an attempt to sell his concept to manufacturers.
After further developments, the 1990’s saw hybrids become commercially available, and cars such as the Toyota Prius are now synonymous with its popularity today, with many people now looking to ‘go green’, now there is a range of suitable and safe vehicles ready to buy. Below is a video clip demonstrating how hybrid cars function: