LA 2007: electric 1899 Lohner-Porsche
Click on the Lohrner-Porsche for a high-res gallery
While most people think of Toyota and Honda as the pioneers of hybrid power-train technology, the idea actually goes back many decades before either company existed. The man behind the all-wheel drive Auto Union Grand Prix cars of the 1930s got his start in the auto business before the turn of the twentieth century. Ferdinand Porsche's first car designs were actually electric vehicles with the world's first hub motors. The limitations of battery technology (where have we heard that one before? I guess big oil was suppressing battery tech even a century ago) prompted Porsche to evolve his design into a range extended EV, creating a serial hybrid.
Sitting adjacent to the new Porsche Cayenne Hybrid at the LA Auto Show was the lone remaining example of the original Lohner-Porsche electric carriage. The hub motors on the front wheels put out 2.5 hp continuously and up to 7 hp for short bursts. That's enough for "cruising" at 10 mph with a top speed of 31 mph. The 80V 40 Ah battery could potentially give a range of up to thirty miles. After its debut in 1900, Lohner built and sold over 300 of the pioneering EVs. Porsche later also created the first all wheel drive car when he added the hub motors to the rear wheels.