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GM's First Hybrid - 1969

Posted June 04, 2009 12:02 AM by CarDomain

Imagine our surprise when our Mopar-loving father in law was looking through an old copy of Hot Rod magazine from 1969 and found the GM ad below. It's for an "experimental" model called the Stir-Lec 1 and it is a freaking hybrid, using a little gas motor to generate electricity for the batteries that actually provide the power for the car.

We've never heard of this thing before, haven't seen any photos, and didn't know that it existed at all, and we're kind of blown away that the company has not at least made mention of it with the promotion it has been doing with the upcoming and much anticipated Volt.

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Power-User

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#1

Re: GM's First Hybrid - 1969

06/05/2009 10:49 AM

oThanks for sending that article. Why did GM fail to follow up on this approach ? By the way, GE has been building this same kind of "hybrid" vehicle for 50 years; it's called a "diesel" locomotive. The "diesel" locomotive has always been an electric vehicle, and the engine is only used to charge the many batteries.

According to Wikipedia, a true hybrid car shares propulsion duties with a motor and an engine:

A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) is a hybrid vehicle that combines a conventional propulsion system with a rechargeable energy storage system (RESS) to achieve better fuel economy than a conventional vehicle. Its secondary propulsion system, additional to the electric motors, means that it does not require regular visits to a charging unit as a battery electric vehicle (BEV) does.

So, the VOLT that GM has been advertising for 2 years would be an electric car, not a hybrid. It simply will have 2 ways to charge the batteries! Alas, after the bankruptcy procedures, the VOLT may die anyway.

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#2

Re: GM's First Hybrid - 1969

06/05/2009 11:38 AM

And its a Stirling engine to boot- this wouldve been a revolutionary car had it actually been produced. Wont knock GM for this one-because the Chevelle, El Camino, Camaro, C-10 pickup, Corvette , Nova, Impala/ Caprice were all excellent cars they made in '69- not to mention all the great Pontiacs of the era....... probably wouldnt have caught on back then as all the aforementioned vehicles got about 12 MPG at best.

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#6
In reply to #2

Re: GM's First Hybrid - 1969

06/05/2009 4:21 PM

MY 69 Chevelle ss 396 got 17 on the highway if I was careful and did not go above 65mph. I had a progressive linkage dual carb setup that was quite economical at the time. Sure wish I had not sold it before moving once. I was constantly being pulled over for excessive noise with that car. I got few tickets because it had mufflers-sorta. Around town I was lucky to get 7mpg. While 1/4 mile-ing you could actually see the gas gauge drop. With 80% of the car weight on the front wheels you needed a full tank or trunk weight to race. Needless to say this car was good at straight lines but was terrible in corners.

It was an automatic, In the wintertime putting it in gear was all it took to get stuck.

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#3

Re: GM's First Hybrid - 1969

06/05/2009 11:56 AM

I don't have access to it at the moment, but I have an old Mother Jones (or Mother Earth News, or something like that!) magazine with an article about a guy who had built a "home-made" hybird with a lawnmower engine, as I recall... claimed he was getting 175 miles to the gallon. I'll have to look it up and see if I have remembered the essence corrrectly. But this was probably late 60's or early 70's.

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Anonymous Poster
#5
In reply to #3

Re: GM's First Hybrid - 1969

06/05/2009 3:57 PM

It was in Mother Earth News. He used a B&S 5hp engine to run a altenator for charging the batteries. For the engine he used a jet engine starter all an Opal if memory serves me right. Its what made me want a hybrid, I now own a '03 Prius.

James

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#4

Re: GM's First Hybrid - 1969

06/05/2009 3:20 PM

I'm not surprised that GM started and abandoned the hybrid vehicle. For years schizophrenia seemed to be the focus of her development, outrageous concept cars and yet next years models are only a little bigger than last years model. The closest the research department ever came to a real new model line was the electric car, the EV1. Instead of allowing this vehicle to grow into the commuter niche market it was intended to fill, the whole lot was taken from the happy customers and scrapped. A few hollow platforms still exist that don't have the electric motor or lead acid batteries. The only tangible proof that GM did have some far thinking people at one time.

If GM does learn their lesson and try to be ahead of the pack, I certainly will welcome their return after bankruptcy. I don't have high hopes though.

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#7

Re: GM's First Hybrid - 1969

06/05/2009 7:11 PM

I had an electric car for many years. Full sized one too! It was a 1981 Ford Electrica.

It was all electric and used a 96 volt 220 Ah battery system comprised or 16 six volt 220 Ah golf cart batteries. Amazingly for the simple technology it was no slug either. It was actually comparable to driving some of the lower budget cars built in the last 20 years! It overall acceleration was surprisingly good considering it weighed about a 1000 pounds more than the gas version! It could run at 75 mph too! The average range at 55 mph was around 30 -40 miles but depending on wind and hills 20 - 60 was not uncommon. Not bad for no regenerative braking and a DC motor that looks to be an electric forklift traction motor!

Put double the motor HP capacity in it with modern controls and regenerative braking abilities. Plus the modern high capacity battery technology that holds more than 10 times the usable power buy volume as the golf cart batteries do and I know 250 - 300 miles between charges while driving interstate speeds would be realistically doable!

Some days I almost wish I had not sold it to my mom. She still loves it and treats it well though! Her average range per charge is higher than mine. She either got better batteries or likely just doesn't drive it so hard.

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