History of the Hybrid Car
The history of the hybrid car begins in 1899 when Ferdinand Porsche engineered the first successful hybrid-electric vehicle. Hobbyists have continued building hybrids since that time, but no major auto manufacturers put a hybrid car into mass production until late in the twentieth century. The widest utilization of hybrid technology during that interim period was actually in diesel-electric submarines. They essentially operate in the same manner as a hybrid car, however the goal in submarines was to economize oxygen rather than fuel. Submarines have since evolved to nuclear power though several nations still rely on diesel-electric technology.
The introduction of the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius in the 1990s marked the first true success of hybrid car technology. Plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles were developed in the 2000s. The PHEVs can be recharged by plugging in to the electrical power grid, and for short trips can operate without conventional fuel. Renault released the firstr PHEV production model dubbed the Kangoo in 2003.
Since its release, the Prius has remained in high demand. Newer designs of hybrid cars are less expensive and look more like their conventional counterparts. The new hybrids often look and perform exactly as their gas-powered siblings, but deliver 50% better fuel efficiency. For instance, the Honda Civic Hybrid looks exactly like the gas version. But it gets 50 miles per gallon.
In 2004 the first hybrid SUV, the Ford Escape Hybrid was introduced. 2005 saw two new hybrid SUVs in the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and the Lexus RX 400h. Within the coming decade, Toyota has plans to add hybrid drivetrains to every model of vehicle it produces. Honda has also released the Accord Hybrid, and Nissan is planning a hybrid model of the Altima.
Hybrid car registrations in the United States rose 25.8% between 2002 and 2003. California has the most hybrid cars registered. Toyota sold 306,862 hybrids between 1997 and November 2004. Honda sold 81,867 hybrids between 1999 and November 2004.