We all know EVs are not new, and it turns out Porsche’s first car, in 1898, was an electric vehicle.
Ferdinand Porsche presented in 1898 the “Egger-Lohner electric vehicle, C.2 Phaeton model” (known as the “P1” for short). It was the world’s first Porsche vehicle, designed and built by Ferdinand Porsche.
After 116 years, the original and unrestored vehicle has been rediscovered and will become part of the collection at the Porsche Museum.
The “P1” was one of the first vehicles registered in Austria, and took to the streets of Vienna on June 26, 1898. Porsche engraved the code “P1,” standing for Porsche number 1, on to all of the key components, thus giving the electric vehicle its unofficial name.
Porsche explained the highly compact electric drive, weighing just 287 pounds (130 kg), offered an output of 3 horsepower. For short periods, up to 5 horsepower could be achieved in overloading mode, allowing the P1 to reach speeds of up to 22 mph (35 kph). When driven in this manner, the vehicle speed was regulated via a 12-speed controller. The overall range of the vehicle could reach up to 50 miles (80 km), a considerable feat for a vehicle of that period. A further innovation was the Lohner alternating vehicle body, which allowed the vehicle to be used in both summer and winter.
The first practical test awaited the ‘P1’ in September 1899 at the international motor vehicle exhibition in the German capital of Berlin, in the form of an electric vehicle race. Even as early as 1899, the competition to produce the best drive systems was already fierce. A race for electric vehicles over a distance of 25 miles (40 km) was announced in Berlin on September 28 to test the performance of the vehicles, with a prize awarded to the winner.
Porsche said the route demanded a great amount of skill from the participants, who had to tackle various challenges such as gradients. With three passengers on board, Ferdinand Porsche steered his ‘P1’ across the finish line 18 minutes ahead of the next competitor. Interestingly, more than half the participants failed to reach the finish line due to technical difficulties. Ferdinand Porsche also came out on top in the efficiency test, as his “P1” is said to have recorded the lowest energy consumption in urban traffic.
The vehicle is being presented today at the Porsche museum and can be viewed free of charge as part of the celebrations to mark the fifth anniversary of the Porsche Museum during the weekend, February 1 and 2. Head out there if you happen to be in Germany!