Did You Know That We’ve Had Hybrid Electric Cars Since 1900?
It’s true! We’ve had hybrid electric cars for over 100 years, and the trailblazing designer of the first hybrid electric vehicle was Ferdinand Porsche (yes, that Porsche). Porsche had been a mechanic in Vienna for about four years when he started designing electric vehicles. He was hired by Hofwagenfabrik Ludwig Lohner & Co in Vienna and in 1900 the first Lohner-Porsche Electromobile was unveiled in Paris. This vehicle was 100 percent electric-powered, but Lohner-Porsche would soon launch their groundbreaking hybrid model.
What is a Hybrid Vehicle?
A hybrid electric vehicle is one that combines the power of gas and electric (battery) energy sources to move the vehicle. Both the gas engine and the battery can be used to power the vehicle completely, partly or the gas engine can simply be engaged to recharge the battery. Many of today’s hybrid vehicles use something called regenerative braking, which harnesses the energy from braking and cycles it back to the main battery. Since hybrid vehicles use less gas, they are generally known for better fuel economy and are better for the environment.
The Lohner-Porsche Hybrid Electric
In 1900, Lohner-Porsche added another vehicle to their line, this time a hybrid electric. The Semper Vivus used two combustion engines and two electric generators, one set over each of the front wheels. This solved one problem of the fully electric vehicles, which is that they had poor range, and would run out of electricity for longer trips. With the combustion engines recharging the electric generators, the vehicles could be taken out for longer trips. However, the combination of the combustion engines and the two electric generators made the vehicle incredibly heavy, which kept it from reaching top speeds.
With some adjustments and rethinking, the Sempre Vivus became ready for distribution as the Porsche-Lohner Mixte. The Mixte was produced from about 1901 to 1915, and it’s estimated that in today’s dollars one would cost anywhere from $80,000 to $200,000. Even after winning the Exelburg Hillclimb in the large car class the Mixte still had its challenges and was overall considered a failure as far as sales. However, Porsche was approached by the archduke Ferdinand and eventually created what he called“tugs,” which were modified versions of his electric engines to tow large pieces of military equipment to strategic locations during WWI.
Today’s hybrid electric vehicles are far more successful than the Lohner-Porsches, but these visionaries still brought something incredible to life, leading the path for talented engineers to improve upon their original ideas. One hybrid vehicle that’s got us excited is the new Volkswagen ID.4. It has an EPA estimated range of 250 miles and charges up to 60 miles in about 10 minutes. We can’t wait to have this one on the lot at Ontario Volkswagen!
Want to find a hybrid or electric that’s right for you?
Contact any of our dealerships to learn more about the hybrid and electric vehicles they offer.