Luxury Life & Style - (Page 48)

> ELEctric & Hybrid VEHicLES: A briEf HiStory DRIVE E arly automotive history is filled with all sorts of attempts at using alternative fuels. In 1665, a steam- powered vehicle capable of 6 miles per hour was built for Chinese Emperor Hsi. The earliest fully electric vehicle came from Scotland in 1839, designed and built by Robert Anderson. In 1870, Sir David Salomon developed another electric car, followed in the 1880s by a purposebuilt electric taxi introduced in London, and so on. Battery developments boomed between 1890 and 1910, especially with the invention of the modern lead-acid battery by H. Tudor and the nickel-iron battery by Edison and Junger. Interest in alternative energy cars declined between 1920 and 1965, but in 1966 the United States Congress introduced the first bills suggesting the use of electric vehicles as a way to cut air pollution. In 1969, GM took the suggestion to heart by building a hybrid that ran electrically to 10 miles per hour and on hybrid battery-gasoline power from 10 to 13 miles per hour; above 13 miles per hour, it used pure gasoline power. Known as GM 512, it was only capable of reaching 40 miles per hour. By the late 1990s, GM, Honda, and Toyota were making big strides at introducing electric cars to the public. Unfortunately, the public wasn’t quite ready for them, and underwhelming sales and reliability questions made manufacturers drop the programs. Car companies focused their efforts on hybrid gas-electrics as a way to further fuel efficiency, and to date, thanks also to high fuel prices and uncertainty with Middle Eastern oil, hybrid cars have shown respectable sales figures. machines Eco-motoring Made cool by don Weberg green U ntil recently, American consumers didn’t exactly fall head over heels for the eco-friendly car. With so many big and beautiful models on showroom floors, electric and hybrid cars seemed, well, puny. They didn’t make a lot of noise, usually couldn’t move too quickly, and, honestly, they often looked just plain weird. However, as technology progresses and buyers are catching on to the monetary and environmental benefits, energy efficient vehicles are now entering a whole new category – luxury. Thankfully, the future of these cars is in the hands of some of the industry’s best designers, making the idea of owning an eco-friendly vehicle all the more attractive. 48 Luxury Life & Style March/April 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Luxury Life & Style

Editor's Letter
Carte Blanche
Home
The Arts
Seen in the South Bay
People
Drive
Fashion
Seen in the South Bay
Travel
The Cellar
Dine
Vacation Properties
Coda

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