Global energy markets are turning away from fossil fuels and with an increasing speed moving to sources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale.
The future belongs to the renewable energy sources and more nations are setting ambitious goals towards the shift to green energy. A bright example is Scotland, where in 2015 wind power produced the equivalent of 97 percent of the country’s household electricity needs. Another astonishing result is presented by Costa Rica – 99 percent of their energy in 2015 was produced from renewable low carbon sources. Germany tops the list of solar powered countries and it is a fairly cloudy place, mind you! And even the world’s largest carbon emitter, China, is a leader in renewable energy, with the most installed wind energy capacity for 2014.
More and more households look for hybrid power systems, which combine two or more modes of electricity generation together, as means to gradually shift to entirely sustainable sources.
Prototypes of hybrid vehicles, to use several different types of power – in most cases the conventional internal combustion engine is paired with power from a renewable source or/and an electric motor – have been introduces to the market over a century ago.
And here is our word of the day – hybrid. It comes from the Latin hybrida, which was used to specifically name an offspring from a tame sow and a wild boar, but entered the English language circa 1600 with the broader meaning of an offspring of two animals or plants of different species, a half-breed, cross-breed, or mongrel. The first use of the word comes from 1601, from the Philemon Holland‘s translation of the early Latin encyclopedia by Pliny the Elder, The Natural History.
In the following decades, the word developed a meaning to refer to people of mixed origin, firstly recorded in 1603, in Ben Jonson’s The new inne: “She’s a wild-Irish borne! Sir, and a Hybride.”
The world was rarely used before the second half of the 19th century, when the general sense of ‘anything that is a product of two heterogeneous things’ was rounded.
The first prototype of a hybrid electric vehicle, the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid, was developed in 1901, as a two-wheel drive, battery-powered electric vehicles with two front wheel hub-mounted motors. But even the later version, of electric motors in each wheel and powered by a gasoline-engine generator and batteries, did not impress the market.
The first mention of a hybrid vehicle in the UK, comes from only 1917, to report on the first trolleybus system in Great Britain, covering the Bradford route. And the same year saw the next step in development, the first hybrid gas electric car – the Woods Dual Power, built by the Woods Motor Vehicle Company of Chicago. The gas engine and electric engine were connected using a magnetic clutch and the electric motor could be used while going in reverse, as the gas engine had no gears and naturally, the first hybrid road vehicle was a commercial failure.
And it was 80 years later, that the market welcomed the iconic Toyota Prius. And just as its name suggests (Prius, from Latin ‘first, original, superior’), it became the first real gasoline-electric hybrid car to go in mass production.
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