1906 Mercedes Mixte hybrid vehicleEnlarge Photo
Have you noticed how many automakers seem to have a hybrid or electric vehicle somewhere in their history files?
If one were being cynical, you might think the long-forgotten knowledge has been retrieved to prove the manufacturer has always been progressive and innovative.
Mercedes-Benz is the latest to regale us of tales of a hybrid vehicle, the 1906 Mercedes Mixte.
Like fellow German automaker Porsche, Mercedes--and more specifically, engineer Wilhelm Maybach--had experimented with combinations of gasoline and alternative drive technologies at the turn of the 20th century.
But the Mixte, which appeared in 1906, was the company's first true hybrid vehicle.
A series hybrid, the Mixte incorporated a gasoline engine and a dynamo to generate electricity for two rear wheel hub motors.
The engine developed 30-55 horsepower, generating enough energy to drive the vehicle on electric power alone.
The Mixte was actually developed as a race car in 1907, with a reported top speed of 75 mph, according to the car's German-language Wikipedia entry.
Regular Mixte models were apparently used in cities as taxis--drawing parallels with a renewed push for electric and range-extended taxis in today's cities.
Today, Mercedes-Benz offers several hybrid vehicles worldwide, with both gasoline and diesel engines, as well as full battery-electric cars in the form of the B-Class Electric Drive, SLS AMG Electric Drive and the Smart brand's Fortwo Electric Drive.
The firm is also dominating this year's Formula One World Championship, with a hybrid vehicle developed to meet 2014's new turbocharged, hybrid regulations.
That makes it more successful than the Mixte ever was, though--the model failed to qualify for its first race in 1907...