Porsche History Shows Electric Vehicle isn’t a New Concept
While you’re browsing around all of the new electric and hybrid vehicles at this year’s Toronto International Auto Show, this story will give you some history to electric powered vehicles. Who knew this technology went back that far?
The well known German car company Porsche is renowned for its excellent sports cars and successful motorsport history. The car company’s founder Ferdinand Porsche’s technical brilliance goes back to the late 1800’s when the young engineer from Maffersdorf, Bohemia began to focus his mind on the production of an electric vehicle.
On Jan. 27, the Porsche Museum located in Stuttgart Germany unveiled Ferdinand Porsche’s earliest work, an original and un-restored Egger-Lohner electric vehicle C.2 Phaeton from 1898, known as the “P1”. Of three built, it is the only one believed to exist.
This interesting vehicle was designed and built by the 23 year old Mr. Porsche while he was working for the K.K. Hofwagenfabrik Jacob Lohner & Comp. The “Egger” name comes from Bela Egger which was the electrical engineering firm Porsche apprenticed at when he was 18, and also partnered with coach builder Lohner. The classic was discovered in a warehouse in Austria last year, where it had been parked since 1902.
This rare find is now the centerpiece of the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart and they are extremely proud to have acquired this piece of tier lineage. Rumour has it Ferdinand Porsche ensured ‘P1’ was engraved onto every key component to guarantee he received credit for the car.
Weighing 130 kilograms, the compact electric drive had an output of three horsepower. For short periods, up to five horsepower could be achieved in its “performance” overloading mode, allowing the P1 to reach up to 35 km/h. To transfer power, a single-speed differential was used. Vehicle speed was regulated via a 12-speed controller. To enable this setup, according to experts, Ferdinand coupled the commutators of the electric motor both consecutively and in parallel. Thanks to the 500-kg batteries, the 1,350-kg P1 could travel up to 80 kilometres, or three to six hours of operation, pretty darn impressive for the time period. A further innovation was the Lohner alternating vehicle body from Coupe to Phaeton, which allowed the P1 to be used in both summer and winter.
Ferdinand Porsche even raced the P1 back in 1899. Competing in a 40-kilometre race in Berlin, winning by 18minutes! So you see, today’s Porsche racing victories truly come with the backing of its founder. Fast forward to 2014, Porsche has just, this month, won the Daytona 24 endurance race with their latest 911 RSR starting the season off right. Taking things into the future yet full circle, the Porsche squad will contest the 2014 Le Mans 24 HR event this June with their new exotic 919 Electric Hybrid race car. If Mr. Porsche could only see this one!
Written by Perry M. Mason
Photos courtesy Porsche Press