plug in hybrid, circa 1969
The concept car with the cumbersome designation XP-883 was nothing more than an experiment relegated to history, but it worked a lot like the Toyota Prius and Saturn Vue plug-in hybrids the two companies are working on today. It was sufficiently ahead of its time for Popular Science to call it “radical” and ask, “wouldn’t it be great to have a car that changed from electric drive for use around town to gasoline power for highway driving?”
“It makes so much sense,” the magazine wrote in July, 1969, “that we feel they’re missing a bet if they don’t put it in production.”
The XP-883 looked like an Avanti hatchback or the AMC Gremlin’s prettier sister. At 122.2-inches long, 57.3-inches wide and 46.3-inches high, it was a little bigger than a Smart ForTwo and a little smaller than a Honda CRX. It had a fiberglass body for light weight, but just what it weighed has been lost to history.
You may think this little hybrid is pretty far advanced,” PopSci wrote, “but the fact is it could be built today. It’s not held up because the engineers are searching for a breakthrough.”
Wired asks “So what’s taken so long?”
This is what has taken so long:
- cheap (during the 1980’s and 1990’s) oil
- powerplans scared of what hybrids will/would do to the power gird
That last one gets’em every time. An all electric car sounds neat in theory. It did to me until my friend (the environmental engineer) pointed out that you just shift the pollution load on to the power plans. Plus you have tons of lead-acid batteries to be disposed of. even “maintenance free” batteries go bad (trust me that Army uses thousands).
He told me that 10% of the cars are 90% of the pollution. When they burn gas, they do it dirty, belching smoke into the sky. Taking them out is a good fix. we are doing that gradually as gas prices go up (people can afford them) and the cars wear out (face it our 1978 dodge charge will/is returning to the earth from whence it came).
Hybrids are great in that we can get them on the road without waiting for that “big breakthrough”. Trust me, it’s always on the horizon. New Mexico Tech is an engineering college, one of the best in that nation. Los Alamos labs hired our grads. If a battery breakthrough was in the works we’d hear about it by now.
When scientists and engineers first started to play with hybrids, most of the college types I knew thought it was a cop out. One womn went so far is to think that the big oil companies were behind it. In reality hybrids are the best for the future. All the electric motor needs is to spin. Heck, you could burn alcohol, hydrogen, natural gas or cooking oil (any flammable oil really).
Humans are just lazy. It was easier to make big gas guzzlers, with oil flowing like water during the last 30 years. Only until recently has the oil chicken come home to roost. We need hybrids. We can kick our dependence on foreign oil and stick it to those oil-sucking, women hating medieval regimes we send our petrodollars to.
P.S. T. Boone Pickens and the CNG (compressed natural gas) industry has spent a pretty penny pimping natural gas. Taking both the green and patriotic angle. The reality is that they want US the taxpayer to pay for the dirty work. They line their pockets and we foot the bill. NO DICE. Pay for it your selves.