With the launch of the Cayenne Hybrid, some say the world has officially turned upside down and that Porsche is turning into a green car company. Now, the launch of a Panamera hybrid model at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show has brought louder cries that Porsche is forgetting its roots. To remind all its fans (and possibly its critics too) of true Porsche heritage, Porsche has built a replica of what it says is the world’s first hybrid: the 111-year-old Semper Vivus that was designed by Ferdinand Porsche himself.
In 1900 the world wasn’t quite as concerned with global warming or depleting our petroleum resources. Back then, hybrid technology was seen as a way of making vehicles simpler by eliminating the transmission and driveshaft (or chains that were common at the time). Little did the young engineer working for Lohner Cars know how far forward thinking he was.
The Semper Vivus, known in 1900 as a “Mixte” instead of a hybrid, used a gas engine that spun a dynamo which fed electricity to accumulators. The accumulators stored the power which was then used to power two electric motors built into the front wheel hubs. Over 300 Lohner-Porsches were built with the patent eventually being sold off.
The replica will be displayed first at the 2011 Geneva Auto Show alongside the Panamera and Cayenne hybrids and after the show will be on display in Porsche’s Museum in Stuttgart. No performance data is currently available, our estimates are 0-60 mph in just under never with a top speed somewhere right around a brisk jog into a head wind.