Hybrid history to go on show at Geneva
Sunday 27 February 2011
Ask any motoring fan which automaker they would most associate with hybrid technology and the answer you'll most likely get is Toyota.
The Japanese automaker has made the world's best-selling hybrid, the Prius, for over ten years now and can claim the title of making the world's first mass-produced hybrid car - although one German automaker feels it deserves a little more credit.
At this year's Geneva Motor Show (March 3 - 13), which begins next week in Switzerland, Porsche is set to show the Semper Vivus, a car which it says was the world's first functional hybrid petrol-electric car in the world.
The car was first built by Porsche's namesake Ferdinand Porsche in 1900 and has been painstakingly recreated by today's Stuttgart-based Porsche Museum so that it can be displayed alongside the company's brand new hybrid model, to be revealed next week.
Porsche's turn-of-the-century model, which was built in conjunction with Vienna-based coachbuilder Jacob Lohner, broke several records and became a European star - when Porsche left Vienna to work for Daimler-Benz in Germany, Lohner described Frederic Porsche as "a man with a big career before him."
It wasn't until 1995 that Toyota would resurrect the idea of a hybrid with the first prototype of its Prius, designed by Takehisa Yaegashi, although Porsche's ideas influenced the design of the moon buggy in the 1970s and underpin modern railway locomotives.
The car that premiered years ago at the 1900 Paris World Exhibition used a unique combination of two combustion engines and an electric hub motor - which, like today's models, could store energy in a battery.
Each motor was capable of between 1.9 kW, peaking at 5.2 kW to deliver a short burst of electric energy, much in the same way that the brand's Porsche 918 RSR uses a flywheel to produce a boost on the race track.
The technology has come a long way, but as the brand introduces its new hybrid model at Geneva, it looks set to prove Lohner right all over again.
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