Historic hybrid, Thursday newsbriefs

August 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

Never mind Driving to the Future, let’s look back at the past for a minute: a 111-year old hybrid, said to be the world’s first, is to take part in the London-Brighton Veteran Car Run in November. The Lohner-Porsche ‘Mixte’ combined the wheel-hub electric-drive system of the even earlier Lohner-Porsche Electric Voiturette with a four-cylinder engine, which acted as a generator – like today’s extended-range EVs. Around 300 Lohner-Porsches were built; they were very expensive for their time, but they were quick; there were even four-wheel drive racing versions with a motor at each wheel. Just 11 Mixtes were made, though; more on this model here.

Ferdinand Porsche (pictured, splendidly moustachioed, at the wheel of a 1903 Mixte) worked for the Viennese coachbuilder Jacob Lohner before going to Daimler-Benz and, ultimately, forming his own company. Lohner is reported to have said, upon Porsche’s departure, that “he is very young, but is a man with a big career before him. You will hear of him again.” No kidding. Anyway, the Lohner-Porsche will be driven on the Run by Ernst Piech, Ferdinand Porsche’s grandson, and Jacob’s descendant Andreas Lohner.

In other news today:

  • A Scottish whiskey distillery has turned self-sufficient: the owner’s Nissan Leaf is powered by electricity produced from biogas, a waste product of the distillation process. All done in an anaerobic digester (you know, the things they keep talking about in The Archers). Bruichladdish, on the Isle of Islay, is making a special ‘Leaf’ edition run of its organic single-malt to celebrate. Cheers! Full story, press release and video at Autoblog Green.
  • Ford has teamed up with SunPower Corp. to offer Focus Electric buyers an approved solar charging system. The SunPower set-up includes 2.5kW-worth of high-efficiency rooftop solar panels, said to be capable of generating enough electricity for 1000 miles a month.
  • Opel/Vauxhall is adding new EcoFlex efficiency-optimised models to its range for the 2012 model-year. These include versions of the Astra 1.7 CDTI equipped with stop-start which emit just 99g/km of carbon dioxide and returns from 76.3mpg; Corsa 1.2 and 1.4 petrol models now with stop-start; Meriva 1.3 CDTi with stop-start; improved Agila 1.0 models; and an Insignia with a new 1.4 turbo engine giving a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions. Full low-down at Green Car Congress; more here when UK-specific details are confirmed.
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