When we talk about hybrid vehicles most of us think of them as of revolutionary discovery of the 21st century. The truth is that they have longer than expected and quite interesting history.
It al started back in the 19th century when the famous-to-be young engineer Ferdinand Porsche gave the world the very first plug-in prototype - called Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid.
The unusual for its time vehicle came equipped with a powerful Daimler engine, coupled with an electric generator. Although its technology was new and yet untapped, the hybrid managed to reach the staggering top speed of 56 km/h (about 35 mph)and to capture the public's attention - which led to the production of more than 300 vehicles, all of which were almost immediately sold out.
It all could have been the beginning of something incredible, an untimely automotive revolution maybe, if the used batteries were more reliable and the pressure from leading petrol companies were not that heavy.
It all, combined, led Porsche and its collaborator Lohner to drop out the hybrid project. It would take a century for the idea of a "revolutionary plug-in hybrid" to resurface again. In 1969, on the pages of a science magazine, an American professor will bring back from the dead plug-ins.
However, it was 2008 when serious production began. Chinese automobile manufacturer BYD was the first to offer a serial production of the plug-in vehicles. Today, there are more than 50 different hybrid models on the market to choose from. And that's just the beginning. According to some researchers, in the following 10 years more than 10% of the vehicles on the market will be hybrids.
When talking about those vehicles, it is important to mention that there is some significant difference between plug-ins and regular hybrids. The first ones' (also called PHEV) battery can recharge when connected to an electrical network. Plug-in hybrid cars can also be divide to three types: series, parallel and series/parallel hybrids.
The popularity of hybrids, and plug-ins in particular, has much increased in the past decade thanks to their eco-friendly nature. But juts like any other car, they too, have some drawbacks that need to be mentioned. One of the trickiest side of the plug-ins is that their fuel efficiency is tightly bound to the way of driving. So if aggressively driven with a rapid acceleration and spontaneous brake pushes, the plug-ins' efficiency drops. The next big disadvantage comes with their unbearably high price tags and their disability to drive long distances entirely on electricity. But after all, plug-in vehicles are proof of the automotive constant development which would eventually lead to the discover of a greater means of transportation. For now, plug-ins rule the market and would continue to expand their segment lines.
Author: Diyana Ilieva