Here's an intriguing question: Who invented the hybrid drivetrain? Was it Toyota with its seminal and ridiculously popular Prius? Or, maybe it was Honda, which beat Toyota to market in the United States with its initial Insight hybrid car. In fact, examples of vehicles with hybrid technology have been around since the late 1800's, with the Lohner Porsche from 1899 often recognized as the first hybrid production vehicle. While nobody would argue against how Toyota has innovated many new features into its modern hybrid cars, the United States justice system awarded PAICE and Russian-born inventor Alexander Severinsky with hard court-fought patents to some key pieces of high voltage hybrid technology. This technologies are used by Toyota for its Hybrid Synergy Drive, which powers vehicles such as the Prius and Camry hybrid.
Now Mr. Severinsky has been recognized again for his contributions to fuel-savings and will be inducted on Thursday into the Innovation Hall of Fame at the University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering. Severnisky had, in fact, wanted to work on fully electric cars but found that battery technology wasn't quite ready to bear the responsibility of moving a few tons of vehicle down the roads. The rest, as they say, is history, and Severinsky will now forever be remembered by many as the man who helped invent the modern hybrid.