Hybrid history to go on museum display

Porsche is to put its Semper Vivus model, acclaimed by many as the world's first hybrid car, on show at the Porsche Museum.

The luxury automaker announced April 26 that fans would be able to get a glimpse of the vehicle, 111 years old, at its museum in Stuttgart from May 10.

Semper Vivus first went on display at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, followed by a stop at New York this week, after being painstakingly recreated from the original design by museum experts and Porsche engineers.

It is based on the ingenuity of two men, Ferdinand Porsche and Jacob Lohner, who conceived a vehicle which uses both petrol engines and electric motors for propulsion in much the same way as today's hybrids use electricity, first putting the vehicle on display in 1900.

Each of the two electric motors were hooked up to generators connected to gas engines and able to produce 1.9kW of power, a system which has been recreated to allow today's model to drive - Porsche will exhibit the driving capabilities over the weekend of May 21-22 by driving the vehicle around the grounds.

It will go on display with other exhibits including the Porsche Hybrid Bike and and the drive train of the Cayenne off-roader at the exhibition, entitled "Ferdinand Porsche - Pioneer of the Hybrid Drive."

Fuel efficiency is a new focus for Porsche, which has in recent years repeatedly highlighted its exploitation of hybrid technology in a bid to catch up with rapidly-greening mainstream rivals such as Audi and Lexus.

Last week, it feted the launch of the Panamera S Hybrid in North America (alongside the Semper Vivus), a model described as the most fuel-efficient Porsche ever, sipping 6.8 l/100km yet producing 380 horsepower and a top track speed of 167 mph (270 km/h).

The exhibition runs May 10 - June 13 at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.