Geneva Auto Show: Porsche Semper Vivus Hybrid

This might be the coolest stunt ever pulled by a car company to draw attention to itself at an auto show.  Everybody’s talking about hybrids. Everybody’s making hybrids. So what did Porsche do for the upcoming Geneva Motor Show? It painstakingly built a functional recreation of what it says is the very first hybrid – a 1900 Porsche Semper Vivus.

Porsche, of course, has a new 2012 hybrid to show at Geneva – the Panamera S Hybrid – but we already told you all about that car. So about the Semper Vivus: Porsche said its museum in Stuttgart spend four years getting “Ferdinand Porsche’s ground breaking innovation” looking great and actually even running.

Porsche 1900 hybrid, Semper Vivus

image via Porsche

The company didn’t offer many details on the vehicle in its Semper Vivus press release, but John Voelker at GreenCarReports.com writes that it’s something like today’s Chevy Volt or Fisker Karma. That is, it’s a series hybrid – the wheels are driven by electric traction only, as in-wheel motors in front are powered by lead-acid batteries recharged by two combustion engines. According to Voelker, the Semper Vivus morphed into the Lohner Porsche, and that vehicle was built until 1906, when it lost out on price to strictly gasoline-powered vehicles.

After it shows at Geneva, the Semper Vivus will go on display at the Porsche Museum, the company said.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

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