The Good Oil: How Porsche beat Prius by 96 years
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It’s only the fortunate few who can drive an electrified Porsche. But looking at things logically, EV or hybrid Porsches should outnumber Toyota Priuses by now.
Ferdinand Porsche is responsible for the world’s first hybrid production vehicle. He created the Lohner-Porsche Semper Vivus (“always alive”) prototype in 1900, which featured electric wheel-hub motors at the front. That evolved into a production version with motors on all four wheels, the Lohner-Porsche Mixte (1901-15).
Jacob Lohner reckoned the time was right for electric vehicles because the air was “ruthlessly spoiled by the large number of petrol engines in use”. That’s some forward thinking right there.
The Mixte combined the hub motors (up to 5.2kW each for short bursts) with lead-acid batteries and a petrol generator. It was a revolutionary machine, but not without its issues: the combined weight of the batteries, motors and platform was over four tonnes, and it was extremely expensive – about twice as much as a comparable petrol car.
It stayed in production for a long time, but the Mixte will still be remembered as a commercial failure. The high price still did not allow Lohner to recoup its development costs and the technology was not pursued further for cars – although it was adapted for large commercial vehicles.
Porsche built a replica of the Semper Vivus in 2011, to celebrate its electric heritage as it launched hybrid versions of its Cayenne and Panamera models for the first time.
It’s hard to talk about new Rolls-Royces without getting into the subject of old Rolls-Royces. That’s as it should be: over 75 per cent of the cars produced by the company since 1904 are still running today.
To celebrate the launch of the new Ghost this month, Rolls-Royce hosted the “20-Ghost Club” at its Goodwood headquarters. The club is devoted exclusively to pre-1940 cars and all travelled to the event under their own power for one massive photo op.
Guests enjoyed a “socially distanced picnic lunch” which included Rolls-Royce Honey, produced on-site from 250,000 bees that reside in the Goodwood Apiary.
One of the attendees was having a special birthday. A Silver Ghost with an open drive limousine body by HJ Mulliner (pictured in silver and black) marked its 100th birthday at the event: it was built in September 1920.