Thursday, 24 February 2011

Porsche builds replica of century-old hybrid for Geneva Show

Porsche builds replica of century-old hybrid for Geneva Show

With all this talk nowadays of global warming and environmentalism the word on the street (pardon the pun!) is "hybrid", used to describe a car that has a secondary power unit (usually electric) to supplement its internal combustion engine (usually petrol).  For many this is seen as the future of motoring, but look, it is also the past!

Yes, like so many things that are in vogue at the moment, hybrid cars can trace their beginnings back to the past - in this case over 100 years to the very dawn of motoring.  One such example was the Lohner-Porsche Semper Vivus (Latin for "always alive" - what a great moniker!) which as the name suggests was partly engineered by Dr Ferdinand Porsche, who famously later went on to design the original VW Beetle and create the sports car company that still bears his name today.  Back in 1900 the goal was not so much eco-friendliness but rather mechanical simplicity, as this accompanying article explains.  Nevertheless it was a remarkable attempt on a variation of what was then still a very new powerplant and the fact that it, in many ways, essentially operated in a similar fashion to today's hybrids says a lot for Dr Porsche's technical savvy.

Now, in order to celebrate the forward-thinking of its founder and draw a comparison with its newest hybrid models, Porsche has spent the last 4 years building an exact replica of the 1900 car and has just unveiled it at the Geneva Motor Show.  Behind all the corporate tub-thumping there is a very real and commendable appreciation of the company's (not to mention wider automotive) heritage and the drive (sorry, again!) to create and show an extraordinary ancestor of the latest hybrids.  If nothing else it goes to prove yet again the truth of one of my favourite sayings - "there's nothing new under the sun"!

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