Hybrid Cars History Since 1920
After the first successful hybrid cars, it took nearly a hundred years for them to become popular again.
The first commercial mass-market hybrid car of the new generation, Toyota Prius, was launched in 1997, in the Japanese market.
However, the launch of the Toyota Prius was the result of some 30 years of development work, of which had already resulted in concept cars, such as the early 1977 Toyota Sports 800 Gas Turbine hybrid prototype.
Toyota Sports 800
Hybrid Cars History - Recent Developments
After the 1997 launch of the Toyota Prius in Japan, it was released in 2000 in the U.S., one year after the release of Honda Insight. Soon after, hybrid cars became very successful, with demand greatly outpacing supply.
The relatively huge demand was somewhat unexpected, resulting in delivery waiting lists as long as one year in 2002, 2003, and 2004, at least for the Toyota Prius.
The U.S. sales of hybrid cars reached about 80,000 in 2004, with analysts expecting as many as 470,000 hybrid vehicles to be sold in 2007.
Hybrid Cars History - Hybrid Engine History
Early hybrid cars primarily used the electric motor for all power.
The engine would charge batteries from which the motor drew power, running only when needed to charge them back up.
More advanced hybrid cars reverse the process somewhat, using gasoline engine for primary power, but with greater efficiency that with conventional cars.
The modern role of the electric motor is to operate not only when the electric motor is used exclusively, but also when the gasoline engine requires extra power.
Also, in modern hybrid cars, instead of the just the engine charging the batteries, the motor acts as a generator during braking, using the momentum of the car to generate electricity.