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I Touched Porsche's First Electric Car Yesterday – The Carriage That Could Have Changed The World


Well, I had read about it, seen it in pictures, been impressed moderately and intelectually, but never realized that the thing was real. It actually exists at the Technical Museum in Vienna, Austria, and I’ve just visited it. Yesterday. And only then I’ve realized that I was sitting near a car that made history. Built by the man himself…

Ferdinand Porsche, that is. The car, dating 1898, still has the smell and touch (yes, I touched it with the tip of my finger, despite the fact that prints everywhere in the museum said “don’t”) of the original days at the end of the 19th century, when things were build to last, out of quality materials.  The leather is still the original one and there’s something that stroke my eyes from the first sight: it had hub wheel motors, just like the latest hybrid-electrics car manufacturers are planning nowadays, and I guess they probably still work, too. Of course, if loaded with the proper (Li-Po?) batteries.

Porsche had first designed the “System Lohner-Porsche” while working for Jacob Lohner, in Vienna. He provided it with two electric motors, and later with a gasoline generator to charge the 1,800 kilos of lead batteries, just like Chevrolet does to its upcoming Volt right now. So this is not new tech – just a hundred-years old invention taken out from the dust to serve economical purposes – but one that, if developed properly in its infancy years, could have saved the planet and the world as we know it could have been different.

Instead of focusing on developing thermal engines and gas-guzzling inefficient engines,… but that’s history already, and we can’t change anything.

Back on the System Lohner Porsche, one more interesting fact that you should know is that later on they equipped the electric carriage with a hub motor in each wheel, and took it to races. The project was eventually abandoned, because the stinky gasoline performance took over the under-developed batteries (sounds familiar?) and Porsche ended up building the cars that you see today. They’re good cars, but lack that green feeling the inventor once had.

The pictures you can see here are taken by myself, yesterday, in Vienna, the place where many wonderful things started to happen once in a while throughout history. If you visit Vienna sometime, don’t hesitate to visit the Technical Museum, that’s only 500 meters away from the Schonbrunn Palace – it’s something you won’t forget.

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