Although hybrids may still seem like new-fangled technology, they’ve been around the block. And we’re not just talking about how the Prius, which debuted in 1997, is already over a decade old. No, let’s go back 31 years to when roller discos and Star Wars were still cool and Toyota debuted its first hybrid.
Based on the Toyota Sports 800, the GT Hybrid concept did away with a conventional internal combustion engine and was powered by a gas turbine instead. But rather than scooting down the highway like a taxiing airliner, the GT Hybrid used the jet engine as part of a series hybrid configuration. That means the turbine powered an electric generator, which in turn charged the hybrid’s batteries and powered an electric motor that turned the driveshaft. When bursts of power were needed, the energy stored in the batteries provided an extra jolt. Unlike the far more common parallel hybrids of today, the turbine never drove the wheels at all. This pre-Prius was shown at the 1977 Tokyo Motor Show as a concept but never produced. Still, the knowledge gained proved invaluable when development of the Prius began in 1994.