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Something I have never clearly understood is how hybrids came about.

Why did Honda and Toyota both make hybrids when they never had to?

I've heard something about the Coalition of New Vehicles or something, and that Honda and Toyota weren't invited so they made their own hybrids or something...

Can someone expalin this to me? ;)
 

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The complete history of hybrids is very complex, filled with political intrigue, nationalism, capitalism and lobbyists. Here’s Kip’s Kondensed version:

The US government paid several billion in grants to the auto industry to develop a family sized car that would achieve 70 MPG. Several noteworthy prototypes were produced. Toyota applied for grant money but was turned down. (no surprise there) It is likely that they feared the US would actually produce hybrids so they developed their own version without subsidy. Naturally this struck the "fear of God" into Honda, (arch rival of Toyota and long known for fuel efficiency). Honda who has a history of working on projects in secret and bringing them to market just before others (Do you remember the Prelude with four wheel steering?) brought the Insight to the US just months before the introduction of the Prius.

If you haven’t already done so check out the prototype history at:

http://www.insightcentral.net/KB/development/index.html

Ironically Synergy drive development started out in a Ford subsidiary, but that’s another story. Honda only planned to sell 5,000 Insights a year and if the Prius had not been a success hybrid development at Honda would likely have quietly faded out.

In any case if the US had not started the ball rolling, hybrids would still be "10 years in the future" like fuel cells. While we are at it, we should thank Stanley Ovshinsky for developing practical Nmh batteries and the Chinese for making them at affordable prices.:wink: Thank too the Internet and grass root, environmentalist, tree hugging, soap box preaching, peak oil fearing, pollution hating, hypermiling, hybrid lovers at IC and the other hybrid forums, sites, and blogs for making the skies of the future look a lot brighter.
 

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... and grass root, environmentalist, tree hugging, soap box preaching, peak oil fearing, pollution hating, hypermiling, hybrid lovers at IC and the other hybrid forums,
As I underestand it, a lot of 'em even have tails! :)

Fred / Proud Owner of "The Silver Bullet"
 

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Just to put the cat amongst the pigeons as they say check out the below link.
The US gov weren't the only ones backing a project for a fuel efficient car albeit not a hybrid but with comparable fuel figures.
I saw the white car at the UK motor show in the eighties.
Very light weight,very aerodynamic and even had hydropneumatic suspension.

http://www.citroenet.org.uk/prototypes/ ... -2000.html

DGate
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thx! :)

Although I have a question on the Ford/Toyota Synergy drive thingy.

Did Ford get the subsidy from the gov't, and then had Toyota help them?

If that's true, that explains why Ford uses Toyta's hybrid system in their vehicles.
 

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Dgate, thats awesome! I'm thinking the Honda team had abig photo of the ECO 2000 hanging on the wall of the bunker. ;) Really, I can see the upswept black detailing, the narower gauge skirt covered rear wheels, the aero wheel covers, and even the suggestion of the headlights and seat covers. 8)

Jat, we have to give Ford credit, as their system was developed separate of Toyota. Ford decided not to get into a fight with Toyota as some of their system was close to Synegy Drive. Both sytems originated from the research of another company. I'm sorry I can't give you a link and I can't remember details, but it is a myth that Ford bought the Synegy technology.

From: http://www.autoblog.com/2005/07/30/2005 ... -days-3-4/

"The ford and toyota hybrid systems are entirely unique and were developed separately. However, toyota made it to the patent office first, and since the ford system had conceptual similarities (including such basic ideas as an "electric motor working with an ic engine to power a vehicle"), the two companies entered into a patent licensing agreement. ford licensed some of toyota's hybrid patents, toyota licensed some of ford's diesel engine patents. licensing merely means both companies acknowledge that their systems have some similarities to previously patented concepts, and this allows production & development to continue without the threat of intellecutal property litigation. the systems were still 100% unique.

it's funny... after every published hybrid escape review where the author implies the ford system is merely a re-branded prius system, you will see a strongly worded letter to the editor from ford a few days later, attempting to set the record straight (last one I saw was in USA Today).

the reason toyota should be commended for their mastery of media management is that patent licensing agreements happen all the time in many industries. toyota, however, saw an opportunity, and when this agreement was reached, they issued a press release announcing ford was licensing their hybrid technology, and then they just sat back and watched the misinterpretations begin."

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Escape_Hybrid

"The Escape Hybrid uses technology similar to that used in Toyota's Prius. Ford engineers realized their technology may conflict with patents held by Toyota, which led to a 2004 patent-sharing accord between the companies, licensing Ford's use of some of Toyota's hybrid technology in exchange for Toyota's use of some of Ford's diesel and direct-injection engine technology.[5] Both Ford and Toyota state that Ford received no technical assistance from Toyota in developing the hybrid powertrain."
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you so much for explaining the Ford/Toyota myth.

I always thought the Escape used HSD. I can't believe that slipped by me!
:lol:
 

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Why did Honda and Toyota both make hybrids when they never had to?

In a way they did ‘have to’ make hybrids (or something). The rest of the world controls CO2 as a pollutant. The CO2 is directly related to how much gas is burned, less gas = less CO2. So foreign auto makers have been looking at ways to improve the fuel economy of there cars for years. The US governments program to develop efficient cars had little to do with this effort (and didn’t produce much of anything beyond paper studies).

Originally Honda did not intend to release the Insight in the US. They developed the manual transmission vehicle with lean burn to maximize the CO2 savings but it produced relatively higher ‘smog’ producing pollutants. This fit well with European and Japanese pollution regulations. The US model was developed when Honda saw an opportunity to release a Hybrid car in the US before Toyota. The US car has the driver on the other side and they added the CVT with a very clean burning engine to satisfy US pollution laws. Honda has long maintained that to sell cars in the US you need to have an automatic transmission. However the customers that bought the quirky new fangled high tec Insights chose the manual transmission at a much higher rate than Honda expected. I guess the average Insight owner in not so ‘average’.

There is another way to view Honda's motivation to make the Insight. The Insight was a show case car developed to test methods to 1) make a hybrid car, 2) make mass production aluminum bodied cars, 3) develop a safer small car. It was intended to grab headlines and give Honda some positive publicity but the technologies developed where rolled in to other vehicles much to Honda’s benefit. The body structure and safety features of the Insight where the stepping stone to the ‘ACE body structure’ that gives Honda so many 5 star rated vehicles today. The Insight is only 4 star but when you consider that the vehicle was designed before the star rating system was developed and that the car weighs less than 2000 pounds it is pretty impressive.

However, Toyota made it to the patent office first,
One last comment about the Ford – Toyota thing. In the US and in Japan a patent is issued to the person who invents the item first, it is not based on who gets to the patent office first (although financial backing dose play a part). As companies work in secret (as required by law) before applying for a patent, it has to be extremely frustrating to an engineer to discover that his bright idea was had by some one else about the same time.
 
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