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.

Hybrid power
Hybrid power
Porsche's answer was to generate electricity on-board as the vehicle drove. By 1901, he added a gasoline internal combustion engine to one of his all-wheel-drive electric race cars creating, essentially, the world's first hybrid car.

Unlike most hybrid cars today, the Lohner-Porsche Mixte's gas engine never powered the wheels directly. It was only used to generate power for the car's electric motors. In that way, it's more similar to something like General Motor's Chevrolet Volt concept vehicle. One big difference is that the Lehner-Porsche was, ultimately, powered by gasoline alone. It couldn't be plugged in for extra charging.

All five hybrid cars produced in 1901, equipped with Mercedes-Benz engines, were bought by Emil Jellinek. With further development, the Porsche-Lohner hybrids reached top speeds of 56 miles per hour.

As far as today's Porsche is concerned, the company is searching for ways to adapt to stricter fuel economy rules expected to come soon to the United States and Europe.

While a hybrid system will work in an SUV like the Cayenne, Porsche executives have said, the company's core remains its sports cars. It would be difficult to make a hybrid sports cars that would retain Porsche's legendary handling and balance, Porsche North America chief executive Peter Schwarzenbauer said in a recent interview with CNNMoney.com.




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