What is the history of hybrid automobiles?
In the 18th century, France had a steam-powered motor carriage that traveled 6 mph. In the 19th century, an Englishman assembled a car with an electric motor, and a blacksmith in Vermont produced an electric motor powered carriage in the 1830s. By the end of the 1800s, a Connecticut manufacturer had produced hundreds of electric cars and a German named Porsche manufactured a front wheel drive electric car and later a hybrid using an internal combustion engine pared with an electric motor. This is probably the first hybrid vehicle on record. In 1904, when Henry Ford developed the first assembly line manufacturing plant for gas-powered vehicles, the decline of electric powered vehicles for mass consumption was imminent.
After the U.S. Congress in the late 1960s, launched bills suggesting that producing electric vehicles would help cut air pollution, renewed interest in alternative transportation was revived. General Motors tested an experimental hybrid car that used electricity up to 13 mpg, then switched to a gas engine, although it only reached 40 mpg. After the 1973 Arab oil embargo, gas prices mounted, and concern for developing an effective alternative was revived. By the late 1970s, General Motors was spending more than $20 million on electric vehicle research and promised to have effective cars by the mid-80s. In 1993, the Dept. of Energy initiated the Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) program as a partnership with the three largest U.S. car manufacturers: GM, Ford and Chrysler. Their joint goal was to have realistic models by 2000 and usable vehicles by 2003-keeping costs, safety and operation in line with conventional cars, but with double the mileage. Over the next few years, several automakers offered electric vehicles for sale starting in California, such as the Toyota RAV4, Ford's Ranger pickup and Honda's EV Plus. The disadvantages of electric cars showed up in unenthusiastic sales, so the manufacturers went back to the HEV concept. Toyota put out the first bona fide mass produced hybrid car in Japan in 1997-the four-door Toyota Prius. It appeared in the U.S. in 2000. Honda was right behind with the two-door Insight released in 1999 and in 2002, they released the Civic Hybrid which offered almost double the mpg of the non-hybrid Civic and all the performance quality. Since then, most of the other car manufacturers have jumped on board.