Hybrid Vehicles no image

Published on May 27th, 2009 | by Christopher DeMorro

9

General Motors First Hybrid; from 1969!

A few years ago, retro was all the rage, with car designers and marketing teams recalling American nostalgia for the days when flashly muscle cars were common and gas cost but a strawpenny a gallon. But even back then, there were a few forward thinkers at General Motors who had at least a passing concern for gas mileage and pollutant control. The Stir-Lec 1 was a hybrid-electric car based on an Opel Kadett, with a small petrol motor recharging 14 acid-lead batteries which in turn powered an electric motor that drove the car. Wild stuff, huh?

So wild, in fact, that the car not only never made it into production, but apparently all memory and record of it was destroyed or forgotten. This car uses the same premise that has made the Prius so popular, thirty years before the Prius ever made it to the road. The whole OPEC fuel crisis and subsequent gas inflations could have been solved, pushing GM to the forefront of fuel efficiency and green driving, had this car ever actually been made. According to the advertisement, which came out of a 1969 issue of Hot Rod Magazine, this car had a top speed of 55 mph (no mention of range) and would “meet the demands of the future.”

If only.

It seems likely to me that even GM had forgotten about this car, but it goes to show that GM and the other Big Three are not necessarily the evil empire the media sometimes portrays them as. But when the consumer wants a big car with a big engine, trying to sell them a crude rendering of an electric-hybrid car is going to send them to another dealership.

On a final note, look at the end of the advertisement, and notice how many of those brands are now defunct. Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Allison, Detroit Diesel, Fisher Body…so sad.

Source: Bangshift.com



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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or esle, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • EcoGeek

    That car DOES NOT use the same premise as the Prius. The Prius uses both electricity and direct mechanical power from the engine to propel it. The car in the ad uses electricity only…which is generated by the engine. Also, GM has apparently taken these plans out of mothballs…for the past couple of years. It’s called the Chevy Volt. Look it up. I agree that it should have been developed since then (we’d be a lot farther along than we are now, but they didn’t have Li or NiMH batteries back then either.)

  • EcoGeek

    That car DOES NOT use the same premise as the Prius. The Prius uses both electricity and direct mechanical power from the engine to propel it. The car in the ad uses electricity only…which is generated by the engine. Also, GM has apparently taken these plans out of mothballs…for the past couple of years. It’s called the Chevy Volt. Look it up. I agree that it should have been developed since then (we’d be a lot farther along than we are now, but they didn’t have Li or NiMH batteries back then either.)

  • Ken Bosar

    It’s true that GM and the other big three are NOT the evil empire, and maybe they did toy around with “futuristic” concepts. But nevertheless, the companies lacked the wisdom and insight to push such concepts into production or even into further research and development. As a result, they must now reap what they sowed.

  • Ken Bosar

    It’s true that GM and the other big three are NOT the evil empire, and maybe they did toy around with “futuristic” concepts. But nevertheless, the companies lacked the wisdom and insight to push such concepts into production or even into further research and development. As a result, they must now reap what they sowed.

  • Christopher DeMorro

    They sold what people bought, and EcoGeek I was more referring to the whole gas/electric combo thing…hell, Ford was toying around with the idea of nuclear-powered cars, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as the saying goes.

    So I say its more we all reap what we sowed. Nerts.

  • http://electricnick.com Electricnick

    Great catch! Any schematics or further insights on the Stir-Lec engine?

    The Electricnick.com team.

  • http://electricnick.com Electricnick

    Great catch! Any schematics or further insights on the Stir-Lec engine?

    The Electricnick.com team.

  • http://millerfamily.stumbleupon.com hannah j

    i drove a standard opel kadett in 1966. 65mph going downhill with a tailwind was as fast as i could or should have gone. i commuted to disneyland though, so what did i care. anyway, safety standards were really different back then, the seats were one step up from lawn chairs, everything was metal, and probably would have skewered you in a wreck. it was a cute, flimsy piece of junk. with the speeds everyone ‘thinks’ they need to drive these days, i think the challenge is to make a safe car for those high speeds. i would just as much prefer to slow down, myself, but if you have a monster truck coming up fast in your rearview mirror, you can’t be a sitting duck if they’re ready to push you out of the way. wouldn’t it be great if we had trains with car carriers going all the way across the country??? then you could have your little limited mileage volt or whatever, for your destination, or a leisurely trip back.

  • http://millerfamily.stumbleupon.com hannah j

    i drove a standard opel kadett in 1966. 65mph going downhill with a tailwind was as fast as i could or should have gone. i commuted to disneyland though, so what did i care. anyway, safety standards were really different back then, the seats were one step up from lawn chairs, everything was metal, and probably would have skewered you in a wreck. it was a cute, flimsy piece of junk. with the speeds everyone ‘thinks’ they need to drive these days, i think the challenge is to make a safe car for those high speeds. i would just as much prefer to slow down, myself, but if you have a monster truck coming up fast in your rearview mirror, you can’t be a sitting duck if they’re ready to push you out of the way. wouldn’t it be great if we had trains with car carriers going all the way across the country??? then you could have your little limited mileage volt or whatever, for your destination, or a leisurely trip back.

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