The Taycan Isn’t Porsche’s first Electric Car
A brief history of Porsche’s work with electric motorsby Ciprian Florea, on
Porsche just unveiled the Taycan, an all-electric sports sedan aimed at the Tesla Model S. The Taycan is Porsche’s first mass-produced EV, but it’s not the first electric vehicle produced by the company. Porsche’s history with electrification goes back more than 100 years ago, long before Ferdinand Porsche established his iconic firm in Stuttgart, Germany.
Porsche’s First EV Goes back to 1898
Ferdinand Porsche designed an electric car in the late 1890s, when he was in his early 20s
Believe it or not, but Ferdinand Porsche designed an electric car in the late 1890s. Called the P1, it went into production in 1898, when Ferdinand was only 23 years old. Also known as the Egger-Lohner or the C.2 Phaeton, it resembled a carriage and it’s out of wood, like most automobiles from the era. The electric motor is powered by Tudor Batteries, a company that still exists under Exide Technologies.
The electric motor generated only three horsepower, but it could crank out five horses for short periods of time. It might not sound like a lot, but it was enough to push the P1 to a top speed of 22 mph.
The power travels to the wheels through a complicated 12-speed controller with six speeds for forward movement, two for reverse, and four acting as brakes. The P1 had a range of around 49 miles and it could be driven for three to five hours, depending on terrain.
Designed for Lohner-Werke, a luxury coachbuilding firm from Vienna, Austria, the P1 was driven by Ferdinand Porsche in a road race in Berlin, Germany, in 1899. Ferdinand won the race by crossing the finish line 18 minutes ahead of the second-place vehicle. The P1 went missing in 1902 and it was rediscovered in 2014, after spending 112 years in a warehouse in Austria. The P1 still has a working electric motors, but the batteries and the seats are gone. You can find it on display at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
Early Hybrid Work
The Lohner-Porsche was in fact the world's first gasoline-electric hybrid
The Porsche P1 never became more than a prototype, so Porsche started working on a new project toward the end of the 1890s. This time around he developed a hybrid vehicles called the Lohner-Porsche Mixed Hybrid. Powered by two or four electric motors driven by a battery and a gasoline engine, the Lohner-Porsche was in fact the world’s first gas-electric hybrid. The original had only two motors, but Porsche later added an electric motor to each wheel, creating an early AWD system.
Introduced in 1900, the Lohner-Porsche had 10 to up to 28 horsepower, depending on how many motors were fitted.
Each motor was capable of 2.5 to 3.5 horsepower, peaking at seven horses for short bursts. Although revolutionary, the project proved to costly for mass production, so Lohner-Werke eventually transferred the technology to larger commercial vehicles like double-decker buses and fire trucks. Word has it that the funeral coach for Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose murder in Sarajevo was the event which sparked off World War I, was manufactured by Lohner-Werke with this drivetrain.
The road to the outstanding Taycan
Ferdinand abandoned electrification when it established Porsche as a carmaker. However, Porsche built its first hybrid vehicle (with the help of the Volkswagen Group), based on the Cayenne SUV, in 2010. More advanced and powerful variants followed and Porsche eventually launched hybrid versions of the Panamera sedan. In 2014, Porsche introduced the 919 Hybrid race car that competed in the FIA World Endurance Championship until 2017.
With the 919 Hybrid, Porsche won 17 races out of 33 and three drivers' and constructors' championships.
It also won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times in a row from 2015 to 2017.
Two years later and the Taycan broke cover as the company’s first mass-produced electric car. Needless to say, the Taycan is a vehicle that Ferdinand Porsche would have been proud of.
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