The first known hybrid was developed by the original Ferdinand Porsche back around the beginning of the twentieth century. The first U.S. hybrid patent, though, was granted to German-born inventor Henri Pieper around the same time, on March 2, 1909. The patent was awarded for something Pieper called "Mixed Drive for Autovehicles," and in his application, submitted in 1905, he wrote that:

The invention...comprises an internal combustion or similar engine, a dynamo motor direct connected therewith, and a storage battery or accumulator in circuit with the dynamo motor, these elements being cooperatively related so that the dynamo motor may be run as a motor by the electrical energy stored in the accumulator to start the engine or to furnish a portion of the power delivered by the set, or may be run as a generator by the engine, when the power of the latter is in excess of that demanded of the set, and caused to store energy in the accumulator.

For more on the hybrid patent, including Pieper's rudimentary battery- and engine-management system, check out Hybrid Cars. For more on how today's hybrids work, read this.

[Source: Hybrid Cars]

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