In 1898, a 23-year old tinkerer named Ferdinand Porsche literally put his mark on one of Europe’s earliest automobiles, and this 100% electric car has sat untouched in an Austrian shed since 1902. With a 50-mile range and a 22 MPH top speed, this amazing piece of machinery is now on display in Germany.
Though officially called the “Egger-Lohner electric vehicle, C.2 Phaeton model,” most of the key components were built by Porsche himself, who subtly marked said components with the “P1” designation. So Porsche either stole credit for this early Austrian automobile who subtly screwed over the guys who funded the project. Regardless, history is written by the victor, and it’s safe to say that Porsche won the day, as his early EV is better known than even the oldest electric car out there.
Of the 3,000 pound curb weight, approximately 1,000 pounds of that were primitive batteries that provided a driving range of some 50 miles, three times the electric range of the Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid. A 12-speed regulator allowed the “octagon” electric motor to deliver as much as 5 horsepower in overload mode, for a top speed of 22 MPH. Porsche first demonstrated his vehicle in 1899 at the International Motor Vehicle Exhibition in Berlin, winning first place and beating out the second-place finisher by some 18 minutes.
While most of the original Porsche’s body is intact, the seating arrangement has been lost to time. Porsche put a translucent blue replica in its place to give visitors to its Stuttgart, Germany museum an idea of what the completed car looked like. It also helps Porsche justify an increasingly electrified car lineup.
The renewed popularity of electric cars is fueling an interest in the history of EVs, and this early Porsche is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle.