In Detail: Hybrid Porsches

TRANSLOGIC 54 takes a look at a 111 year old Porsche hybrid as well as the 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid. Here's a little more info on both.

Reconstruction of the historic Lohner-Porsche Semper Vivus hybrid took four years and, in a recent press release, Porsche states that this was the world's "first functional hybrid car." That statement leads us to believe that the idea of a gas/electric hybrid was certainly not new at the time, but that Dr. Ferdinand Porsche was the one who actually made the whole thing work. One of the big problems for Dr. Porsche was weight. Ask Nissan, Ford or Chevrolet about their recent electric or hybrid cars and they'll tell you that's still an issue. Batteries and electrical components are heavy. Porsche continued to work on reducing the hybrid's weight from the year 1900 through 1905. The total weight of the reconstructed Semper Vivus is 1.7 tons. The vehicle's top speed is 22 mph and it has a total range of about 124 miles, fairly impressive for 1900.

Like today's Chevy Volt, the Semper Vivus uses a gasoline engine to produce electricity. It even has the ability to store unused electricity in the batteries. The Semper Vivus actually uses two DeDion single cylinder engines, each making about 2.5 hp. The electric motor output is 2.7 hp or 2 kW per wheel.

It's interesting to note that while Porsche has built its reputation on stellar rear-wheel drive sports cars, the Semper Vivus is front wheel drive. A racing version and an all-wheel drive version were also built and, after some revisions, Porsche actually sold 11 hybrid vehicles. But, the car's complexity and cost eventually led to it being discontinued. Porsche had much better luck selling pure electric cars. According to Porsche, the company sold 65 Lohner-Porsche electric vehicles until production ended in 1905.

Anyone that wants an up close look at the Semper Vivus in action can visit the Porsche museum in Stuttgart where the replica will be on display. It will be shown from May 10 – June 13, 2011. Porsche is also giving driving demonstrations on select weekends in May. For more info, check out the Porsche Museum web site.

Of course the company expects the 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid will become much more than just a museum piece and surely they plan to sell more than 11. That shouldn't be too hard considering the Panamera's already impressive combination of engaging driving dynamics and comfort.

The 2012 Porsche Panamera S Hybrid is a 380 hp performance sedan first and foremost. But, how it makes all that power is more interesting than the hp number itself. A supercharged 3.0L V6 makes the bulk of the horsepower, producing 333. Another 47 hp is delivered by an electric motor. Equipped with an eight speed automatic transmission, Porsche says the car will get from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 5.7 seconds; top speed is 168 mph.

The Panamera S Hybrid will cost about $95,000, but does come with more standard features than a V8 Panamera S. Adaptive Air Suspension with the Porsche Active Suspension Management (PASM) adaptive shock absorber system and variable-assist power steering are included. Other standard features include Porsche Communication Management (PCM) with navigation, the universal audio interface and Bi-Xenon headlights. Inside, the Panamera S Hybrid also has a display that shows relevant information about vehicle's hybrid drive systems.

The 2012 Panamera S Hybrid will be available by the end of 2011.

Click the image below to watch TRANSLOGIC 54: Porsche Hybrids Then And Now:

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