History's Innovative Autos

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Gas-electric hybrid
In 1901, Czech engineer Ferdinand Porsche unveiled the Mixte (above). French for "mixed," the car was a forerunner to today's gas-electric hybrids, which use less gasoline and create fewer emissions than conventional gas-powered cars. But unlike Porsche's later sports cars, the Mixte was too far ahead of its time. The four-seater model required nearly two tons of batteries, which made it too expensive to be produced in bulk. (The model seen here is a two-seater.) Improved battery technologies have helped reduce costs and allow modern hybrids like Toyota's Prius to sell increasingly well.

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