Hybrid cars are slowly inching their way into the public consciousness. As an alternative to petroleum fueled cars, hybrids offer an environmentally safer way to travel for those who wish to do their part in contributing to the overall eco-system recovery.
However sensible, hybrid vehicles tend to lack amenities and other features in many functional areas. This makes them less appealing and less useful to people with specific needs and lifestyles. As technology advances, the hybrid car may become more popular with those who are looking for a car that can effectively address both environmental concerns and personal transportation needs.
Most forms of hybrid cars today are a combination of gas and electric power. While the gas is required to provide power for propulsion, the electric battery component powers the motor. These types of cars are considered to be much more environmentally sound than traditional cars. However, they do have several drawbacks, such as the lack of significant horsepower, among others.
Although hybrid cars seem to be a relatively new idea, only making appearing on the social radar within the last ten years, they have actually been around much longer. As early as the beginning of the 20th century, hybrid cars began to appear at exhibitions, fairs and at other showcases for technologies and innovations.
In 1915, the first large-scale production and marketing of a dual-powered car was under way. About 600 hybrid cars were made by the Woods Motor Vehicle Company. These hybrid cars worked by engaging an electric motor that provided speeds of up to 15 miles per hour, after which a gas powered engine engaged to provide the rest of the speed. The top speed that these cars reached was about 35 miles per hour, which was considered relatively speedy in those days.
Hybrid cars were left in the dust, however, until the late 1950s, when the Henry Kilowatt appeared on the scene with an electronic speed control mechanism; however, the model never got very far with consumers. In 1972, the Buick Skylark was used as a working model for an electric hybrid power-train engine to showcase the technology for the Federal Clean Car Incentive Program, but it wasn’t until the late 1990s that the idea of a hybrid engine car began to pick up speed once again.
The Partnership for a New Generation for Vehicles, an idea from the Clinton administration, encouraged car makers to begin research and development on clean air models of their current cars and to invent ways to create a new generation for clear air vehicles.
Eventually, the Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius became the first, mass-produced, successful lines of cars designed to meet the concept of the clean air car. Following this, another idea, for the plug-in hybrid, was developed. This allowed cars drive with batteries that could be recharged with conventional power methods, such as on the general power grid. These cars did not require gas for short trips.
One of the biggest benefits of having a hybrid car is that they have a much higher rate of gas mileage and will not only save money in the long run, but also help conserve the limited resources of the earth.