Porsche Rolls Out the World’s First Hybrid
By Stuart Schwartzapfel
Article Source: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2011/04/porsche-semper-vivus/
Photo Source: Porsche, Mark Dye/Newscast
NEW YORK — Toyota gets all the love for ushering in the hybrid era with the Prius, but Porsche is here to say its founder had a hybrid on the road almost a century before those guys in Japan.
Porsche rolled into the New York Auto Show with Semper Vivus, a meticulous $750,000 reproduction of the series hybrid Ferdinand Porsche built in 1900. The car provided a nice contrast to the $95,000 Panamera S Hybrid making its North American debut at the show.
Semper Vivus, Latin for “always alive,” works a lot like the Chevrolet Volt. Batteries provide juice to the hub-mounted motors, and a pair of tiny single-cylinder engines step in to drive two 2.5-kilowatt generators that keep electricity flowing when the batteries go kaput.
The specs are impressive, even by today’s standards. The batteries have a range of 40 kilometers (25 miles). Once the 3.5-horsepower engines fire up, Semper Vivus can go another 160 kilometers (100 miles). Top speed is 35 mph, quite quick for its day. One cool bit: the tires were chiseled from solid blocks of rubber, the only way to support the weight of the car. Semper Vivus weighs 3,700 pounds.
Ferdinand Porsche, who had a background in electrical engineering, was fascinated by EVs and developed the original car with Viennese coachbuilder Ludwig Lohner.
The car Porsche is showing in New York was meticulously recreated from the scant information squirreled away in the company’s archives. Almost every part was fabricated from scratch, although the engines are the real deal. One was found in England, the other in France.
“The Porsche museum decided to rebuild this car in 2007. It represented a big challenge because nothing was in existence anymore,” said Alchim Steiskal, director of the Porsche museum in Stuttgart. “All we has was one sketch and one drawing to go by.”
Porsche’s eager to carve out a piece of the hybrid market, and it’s even taken gas-electrics racing. The Cayenne Hybrid S represents 18 percent of all Cayenne sales, and the Panamera Hybrid S is the most fuel-efficient car Porsche ever. By wheeling out a bit of its past, the company hopes people will look ahead to its future.