Punish Exxon for Hiding Hybrid Car Technology in the 1970s

Target: United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch

Goal: Indict ExxonMobil for its outrageous cover-up of environmental research.

If the environmentally-minded community needed one more reason to hate ExxonMobil, here’s one: the company came within a hairsbreadth of revolutionizing the electric car 40 years ago, and then simply abandoned the project.

During the oil crisis of the 1970s, Exxon began to fear that they would not be able to make money off of oil for much longer. In fact, at that time, Exxon was participating in cutting-edge climate research. Being then semi-realistic about the limited future of fossil fuels, Exxon set up a program to devise alternatives to gasoline-powered cars. It took them only a few short years to invent the first rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Shortly thereafter, they were also responsible for devising the AC (alternating current) motor, which could transform any full-sized vehicle into a hybrid. This technology is now used inside the Prius.

Despite these bright beginnings, Exxon turned its back on these projects when the oil market unexpectedly flooded, and they figured they could keep on making money with business as usual. Robert Hamlen, former general manager of Exxon’s battery division, commented: “If I’d been smarter, I would have understood that Exxon was an oil business and probably was always going to stay in the oil business.”

The world then had to wait another 16 years for the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle. Toyota launched the Prius in 1997, with an advanced version of the AC motor. This is but another layer on the already infuriating environmental scandals Exxon has perpetrated – covering up their own climate research in order to advance their interests instead of the public interest. This warrants punishment. Add your voice to convince U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch that Exxon should be investigated and brought to trial before a federal grand jury.


Dear Madam Attorney General,

As I know you are aware, Exxon is currently facing lawsuits for their actions to hide and obfuscate climate change research. It seems Exxon has gone even farther than suppressing science about carbon emissions from fossil fuels – in the 1970s, Exxon very nearly became a leader in renewable and hybrid vehicle technology. They were responsible, 40 years ago, for inventing key components of electric and hybrid cars.

Then, when the oil crisis of the 70s became an oil glut, Exxon abandoned these projects. The public had to wait another 16 years for hybrid technology, because of Exxon’s greed. This, in my opinion, is the last straw.

Following the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Exxon and its subsidiaries were indicted by a federal grand jury on five criminal violations. Their well-documented cover-up of their own climate research is every bit as criminal and impermissible as their mistakes in Prince William Sound. If Exxon is not brought to justice, they will continue to unscrupulously pursue profits, and the planet will suffer. I urge you to take action on this matter.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Brian Katt

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  1. Angela Rabon says:

    This really shows the depth of corporate greed that permeates most businesses. It sickens me to know this happens within most corporations and we never know about it.

    • Rosslyn Osborne says:

      Totally agree, from medication that can and do cure many types of cancers, to hybrid cars, have always been there, but the greedy corporations want the fast dirty money at all costs…
      Will it ever change???? Doubt it.

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