• FA-108508_Lohner-Porsche © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
  • FA-108516_Lohner-Porsche © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
  • FA-108512_Lohner-Porsche © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
  • FA-108514_Lohner-Porsche © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek
Collection Area
Traffic & Transport
Collection
Road Traffic
Exhibition
Mobility
Epoch
1900 - 1909

Lohner-Porsche electric vehicle, 1900

Back to the future! Successful electric vehicles already existed around 1900. Many of the considerations that surrounded electric vehicles back then are once again very topical today.

In 1898 Ludwig Lohner, a Viennese carriage maker, decided that self-powered cars were the future and opted for an electrically powered vehicle. Electric vehicles had a number of obvious advantages over petrol engine cars: they were easier to start and to drive, and they were quieter to run. Not least they produced no direct exhaust gases, whereas the air, according to Lohner, “was being mercilessly ruined by the petrol engines that now occur in such large numbers”.

The young Ferdinand Porsche came up with the idea for the design of the Lohner-Porsche vehicle. Instead of complex drive trains, internal-pole electric motors powered the front wheels directly. The hub-mounted electric motors were powered by batteries with a terminal voltage of 60 - 80 volts and a capacity of 170 - 300 ampere-hours (Ah). At a normal speed of 35 km/h the vehicle had a range of around 50 km. The Lohner-Porsche received a great deal of recognition and praise at the Paris Exposition of 1900.

The Lohner-Porsche was an elegant, easy-to-operate vehicle for city use. It was particularly well suited for regular use as part of a vehicle fleet. The Vienna fire brigade acquired 40 vehicles that were based on the Lohner-Porsche drive system. Taxis with a Lohner-Porsche drive system also operated successfully in Berlin.

And yet, despite these uses, electric vehicles failed to establish themselves in the long term. Motorists who wanted to drive out into the country by automobile as their new “adventure machine” opted for petrol-driven models. The range of electric vehicles was too short and in the countryside there was no infrastructure for recharging them; what’s more, the charging times were too long. Electric vehicles also had something of an image problem: they were almost too clean and quiet, and therefore also a little boring.



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