How Ferdinand Porsche Sort of Invented the Chevy Volt Back in 1898

4 years ago by Eric Loveday 8

Lohner Porsche Mixte Hybrid

Lohner Porsche Mixte Hybrid

This one is a stretch, but stick with us and maybe it’ll make sense…Somewhat.

Ferdinand Porsche

Ferdinand Porsche

In 1898, Ferdinand Porsche developed what would become known as the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid.  This was Mr. Ferdinand’s first attempt at a hybrid vehicle and, in some ways, a technological success.

The Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid used 4 hub-mounted electric motors for motivation.  Those motors were powered by batteries, which could be recharged by the vehicle’s gas generator.  Sound sort of like a Chevy Volt?

Mr. Ferdinand’s first attempt at this was a pure electric.  When he wasn’t satisfied with the range, he went the extended-range route by dropping that gas generator in there.

Technology in 1898 was nowhere near where it is today, so as expected, the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid wasn’t exactly what Porsche had envisioned.

The finished vehicle required 1.8 tons of lead-acid batteries to meet Mr. Ferdinand’s requirements.  The vehicle itself tipped the scales at over 8,000 pounds.

The hub-mounted electric motors could only put out 7 hp and each of them weighed 1,280 pounds.

Total horsepower was listed at a measly 56 and its cost was an astronomical 15,000 Austrian Crowns.  We won’t even try to convert that to US dollars today.  Instead, we’ll say that only the most elite of the elite could afford one back then and only two were ever sold, despite it being considered a masterpiece by most with automotive knowledge back in those days.

Needless to say, the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid never caught on.  It was a century ahead of its time and Mr. Ferdinand knew that, but his efforts led to several other attempts at perfecting the extended-range technology, which today is seen in the Chevy Volt (minus the hub-mounted motors).

Oh, here’s one more shocking fact that we almost overlooked: Ferdinand Porsche was only 18 when he developed the Lohner-Porsche Mixte Hybrid…18!!!

Source: Wikipedia

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8 responses to "How Ferdinand Porsche Sort of Invented the Chevy Volt Back in 1898"

  1. offib says:

    8000 lbs! The Fisker Karma has nothing on that!

  2. zilm says:

    Hybrid used 4 hub-mounted electric motors for motivation;
    The finished vehicle required 1.8 tons of lead-acid batteries;
    The vehicle itself tipped the scales at over 8,000 pounds;
    The hub-mounted electric motors could only put out 7 hp and each of them weighed 1,280 pounds;
    Total horsepower was listed at a measly 56
    ///Great math involved in total

    1. Foo says:

      Maybe the math is correct and there were eight motors then, two per wheel hub? The article didn’t specify.

      1. zilm says:

        yeah and other parts with negative weigth.
        It works!

  3. vdiv says:

    Eric,

    What’s up with the Chevy Volt preoccupation in this article? Why not use the Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, a much more appropriate comparison, and then try to explain why Porsche made no plugins for over a century?

    1. Foo says:

      It’s obvious… becuase the ways in which the Mixte Hybrid and the Volt work have much more in common with each other than with the Panamera.

      The latter is a traditional hybrid, while the Volt and the Mixte Hybrid both function more like a modern diesel-electric locomotive (e.g., a separately functioning fuel-powered generator provides electricity, which is then used to drive the wheels). In a traditional hybrid, of which the Panamera is an example, an electric motor *assists* a more-or-less traditionally-configured gasoline-powered drive-train. The Volt may be a “hybrid”, but it is not a hybrid like, say, the Prius is a hybrid. Internally, they are quite different.

      1. vdiv says:

        Try again. The Panamera S E-Hybrid is a plugin. Not to be confused with the old S Hybrid which isn’t.

        1. Foo says:

          No, the ability to plug in is not relevant here.

          You’ve failed to grasp the basic premise of my previous point. Namely, that the *configuration* of the hybrid system employed in the Mixte shares more in common with the Volt that it does the Panamera.

          The Mixte is a “series hybrid” (just like diesel-electric locomotive, and the Volt, and also the BMW i3 when configured with the range extender). The Panamera, on the other hand, is a “parallel hybrid” (like the Prius, or even the plug-in Prius).

          That’s why the comparison between the Volt and Mixte is more appropriate than with the Panamera.