Henri Pieper, Great Grand-Father of the Prius Hybrid Car
Henri Pieper, a German-born inventor and gunmaker in Belgium, was granted a US patent in 1909 (March 2nd, to be exact, though the submission took place on November 23rd 1905) for a car that is basically a gasoline-electric hybrid.
More details below!
Via HybridCars, the opening paragraph of his patent request:
Be it known that I, Henri Pieper, a subject of the King of Belgium, residing at 18 Rue des Bayards, in Liege, Belgium, have invented new and useful Improvements in Mixed Drives for Autovehicles The invention comprises an internal combustion or similar engine, a dynamo motor direct connected therewith, and a storage battery or accumulator in circuit with the dynamo motor, these elements being cooperatively related so that the dynamo motor may be run as a motor by the electrical energy stored in the accumulator to start the engine or to furnish a portion of the power delivered by the set, or may be run as a generator by the engine, when the power of the latter is in excess of that demanded of the set, and caused to store energy in the accumulator."
But that's not all. Hybrids are actually more than a 100 years old if you look at series hybrids (like the GM Volt).
The Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid
Porsche reached the logical conclusion and in 1901 introduced the 'Mixte' vehicle/transmission concept: instead of a massive battery-pack, an internal combustion engine built by the German firm, Daimler, was fitted to a generator to drive the electric hub motors and (for vehicle reliability) a small battery pack. This way Porsche had created the first petroleum electric hybrid vehicle on record, although since sufficiently reliable gears and couplings weren't available at the time, he chose to make it a series-hybrid, an arrangement currently more common in diesel-electric or turbo-electric railway locomotives than automobiles.
It's a similar story for battery electric cars. They were actually more numerous than internal combustion engine vehicles for a while at the dawn of the automobile...
Photos: Public domain
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