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Porsche goes green...100 years ago

At this month's Los Angeles Auto Show, the German performance automaker will unveil its green plan for a new century - the last one.

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What made Porsche's electric car so revolutionary was the manufacturing simplicity and energy efficiency engendered by placing the motors directly at the wheel hubs.

With no transmission or cables of any sort needed to carry energy from the motors to the wheels, 83 percent of the energy used by the car actually went to move the car. That compares to less than 40 percent for modern internal combustion engines.

Despite that, Porsche's electric car design was severely limited by the available battery technology. Batteries couldn't hold enough electricity for long trips, and they wore out quickly. Adding more power and range meant adding lots more weight.

Battery power also made the cars quite expensive. Typical buyers were wealthy industrialists like Emil Jellenik, the Daimler Motor Co. investor who demanded that that company name its cars after his daughter, Mercedes.


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