Archive for November 15th, 2007

15
Nov

Porsche Had World’s First Hybrid 100 Years Ago

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old hybrid

Surprise! The first hybrid car is a 100-year-old Porsche! The car had in-wheel electric motors and an onboard gas engine to recharge the batteries. This makes the car a serial hybrid (only one engine drives the wheels) like the Volt, instead of a paralell hybrid (both engines drive the wheels) like the Prius. And the car, on the whole, was quite a breakthrough at the time.

The in-wheel electric motors were an absolute stroke of genius as they significantly increased the vehicle’s efficiency by removing all mechanical parts. Unlike the Volt, the 1901 Porsche hybrid could only be charged by its onboard engine. Unlike its all-electric predecessors, it didn’t have a plug.

Unfortunately, Porsche didn’t see any reason to continue development of these hybrid vehicles, as gasoline became exceptionally cheap, and the extra electric motors were prohibitively expensive. And now, 100 years later, the last thing Porsche is concerned with is efficiency. Porsche will have one of their antique electric cars on display at this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show. They’re using it to promote their new green initiative. Unfortunately, there’s no real story there, as Porsche seems to be more interested in luxury SUVs than plug-in hybrids.

But GM has picked up the torch and brightened it with some innovations of their own. The Chevy Volt will soon become the first serial hybrid produced by a major auto company in over 100 years.