Porsche Semper Vivus: the first functional hybrid car in the world

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 20, 2011

Porsche gave a remarkable statement at the Frankfurt Motor Show last week with the Semper Vivus. This 1900 hybrid is technically not a Porsche. However, it has a clear Porsche lineage, as it is designed by company founder Ferdinand Porsche while working as technical director for the Lohner brand.

Achim Stejskal, who is the director of public relations for the Porsche Museum, stated that it took four years to construct the replica of the vehicle, starting with a single photograph and rough drawing.

Fortunately, the team was able to procure original engine parts at a flea market. The hybrid system has two one-cylinder engines which do not drive the wheels but run a generator when battery power fades. Motors in the front wheels generate the power for the vehicle, says Autonews.

Furthermore, the top speed is 20 miles per hour. Moreover, Stejskal said that the vehicle has the “charm” of early automobiles derived from the rubber bulb horn, for example. According to Stejskal, Porsche is working to replicate the vehicle because it is the world's first functional hybrid vehicle.

It was in 1900 when Professor Ferdinand Porsche launched the first electric car. He simply called it the Lohner Porsche. Initially, the wheel-hub motors drive its front-wheels. Later on, he also pioneered the all-wheel drive with four-wheel brakes to go with his invention. And since the dawn of the new era, Porsche became the most illustrious carmaker the world has ever heard of.

Porsche’s most remarkable work as an automotive engineer went to the first hybrid he built. The Lohner Porsche Semper Vivus from the last century marks the turning point in car history.

Though the years before that, (sometime in 1896), Prof. Porsche was already making his own designs. But it wasn’t until in 1900 when the first Porsche car was introduced at the Paris World Exhibition. During the autumn of the same year, the Semmering-Bergrennen race inspired him to create the first hybrid model with fuel engine and battery powered all-wheel drive. The Semper Vivus was run by 2 generators with petrol engine while the single charging unit powers up the batteries and wheel hub motors.

At present, the Semper Vivus a.k.a “Always Alive” was recreated to remember the Professor’s first creation. The prototype model of the vehicle is taken exactly from the original design sketches made by the founder himself. This extensive research and development is a joint initiative between the Hinterzarten-based Karosseriebau Drescher and Porsche Engineering. Porsche’s Semper Vivus replica will be showcased this coming April 20 at the New York Autoshow.

Topics: porsche, hybrid

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