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The very first Porsche ever made, built in 1898 has been unearthed in a shed in Austria, Ferdinand Porsche's home country, in nearly pristine condition.
Best known for it's performance sports cars, Porsche has recently experimented with electric powered vehicles, notably the new hybrid 918 Spyder. However, the company is hardly new to electric vehicles. The 1898 Porsche recently found in a barn was the company's first EV.
Called the Egger-Lohner electric vehicle, C.2 Phaeton model, it is the first car design ever produced by company founder Ferdinand Porsche. He was 22 years old and working for a company called Jakon Lohner & Company, who made luxury vehicles for Europe's royalty. Porsche engraved a "P1" mark onto the car's parts.
Thus nicknamed the P1, in 1899 the car wiped out it's competition in a racing event in Berlin. Porsche finished the race 18 minutes ahead of his rivals in the 40 km race.
At first glance, the car looks like a horse drawn carriage rather than a car. It's made from a mix of wood and metal, and has an artisan carriage style frame. Under it's frame lies an octagon-shaped electric motor that weighs 286 pounds. Lead acid batteries powered the car, and gauges displayed how many miles remained until the batteries would run out. It could go 49.7 miles on a charge, which is comparable to some of today's electric models too. The battery weighed a whopping 1103 pounds, more than a third of the overall weight of the 2997 pound car. Battery weight continues to be an issue with electric vehicles today.
While range hasn't changed much in the last 100+ years, performance has. This vintage Porsche could only coax a top speed of 15.5 mph from it's 3 hp electric motor. An overdrive function could boost that horsepower to 5, and it's top speed to 21.75 mph in limited bursts.
Electric vehicles were popular in the 1890s and 1900s, before gasoline engines began to dominate. Lead acid batteries were affordable, which lead to fleets of EVs, such as taxicabs in large cities like NYC and London.
The unrestored Porsche P1 will go on permanent display at the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, Germany.
By Linda Aylesworth - autoExpert.ca