Hybrid autos are thought of as a new concept, a break-through, a rarity. However, if we look more deeply in their history, it turns out that the hybrids are not such a novelty that we may think. In fact, hybrid-engined cars are older than any of us and their history dates back to the beginning of the 20th century.
The electric cars were in fact first created in 1860s, even before the gasoline-engined vehicles appeared (1875), but as far as history of hybrid autos is concerned , it all started in 1902. The first vehicle that could be called hybrid, as it used two power sources, was the ‘Mixte’ designed by Ferdinand Porsche. The car had a gasoline engine to ran a generator which powered electric hub motors. The hybrid autos were later produced by several companies such as Krieger, Lohner-Porsche and Auto-Mixte. However at that time the gasoline-engines technology prevailed. The crucial moment was when Henry Ford built his first assembly line in 1914. He introduced many improvements to the gas-run engines what enabled him to start a mass production and introduce first affordable car – the T model.
From that time the technology of electric, steam and hybrid cars was neglected. Few were trying to develop the idea and only when the issue of air-pollution and global warming became serious, the gasoline alternatives was once again brought to the centre of attention. The rising price of gasoline also played its role and spurred the interest in different energy sources. The massive price rise of oil was noted in the 1970s and in those years many automotive industry players with a governments’ blessing came back to the idea of hybrid autos. In those years a German company Volkswagen launched a hybrid-engined car – the VW Taxi, Toyota began working on the concept and built its first hybrid prototype and American government started to use electric vehicles produced by American Motors.
The real breakthrough in hybrid autos history was the launch of Toyota Prius in 1997 to the Japanese market, the first mass-produced modern vehicle of that type. Soon other manufacturers followed and the hybrid autos were introduced to European and American markets. The fastest followers were Audi and Honda. At first, the drivers were rather careful and in 1997 only 18,000 of hybrids were sold, however with time and due to improvements introduced by the manufacturers, their popularity has grown. In fact in the years of 2004-2007 the demand for Prius was higher than the supply and there were waiting lists created for those willing to buy the car.
To sum up, it seems that the future of hybrid autos is now secure as the technology is getting more popular and is also supported by many governments. All the major car manufacturers are constantly working on launching new models and improving the already existing ones. All in all, after a century of neglect, the hybrid technology is now here for good and the hybrid autos are beginning to be a standard, not a rarity owned by few.