The Little Known Story of Victor Wouk

We tend to think of hybrid cars as new technology, even if we know that electric power for vehicles has a long and colorful history. After all, it's only in the past five years or so that hybrid cars have become a part of mainstream American culture. But the if the government can cover up UFOs, it can certainly cover up hybrid cars, as it showed in its dealings with Victor Wouk.
Wouk was an engineer who had worked on projects as hush-hush as the Manhattan Project. He began working to reduce emissions from automobiles, and came to the same conclusion as modern car manufacturers: combining a gasoline engine with a battery-powered electric motor is the most feasible short-term solution, and is workable immediately without any additional infrastructure or any change to the auto fueling industry. Wouk built a prototype, a Buick Skylark, and with the encouragement of several EPA employees, formally proposed his model as part of the Federal Clean Air Incentive Program.

So what went wrong? One man, Erik Stork. Stork was in charge of the EPA's Mobile Source Air Pollution Control Program at the time, and he wouldn't allow Wouk's prototype to be tested. He finally did allow the testing, and although Wouk's car passed, Stork refused to allow Wouk's hybrid to move into the next phase of production. In an interview with, Stork recalls his reasoning, saying, "Hybrids are just not a very practical technology for automotive. That's why it's going nowhere. It certainly wasn't going anywhere then. Even today, it's marginal."

No, Mr. Stork, it didn't go anywhere then--but that's because you made a bad decision for the American public. Your decision has implications that span the Great Barrier Reef, the polar icecaps, and the raise in asthma in American children. I wonder what you had to say about biodiesel? [Source:]

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