The world's first hybrid automobile goes on show again - 111 years later


March 6, 2011

The Semper Vivus comes on stage in Geneva

The Semper Vivus comes on stage in Geneva

Image Gallery (12 images)

We're a little non-plussed on Porsche's announcement of a reconstructed Semper Vivus, which it is claiming was presented at the Paris Show of 1900. There's a video of the construction of the vehicle, but it is at odds with previous Porsche historic information on the Lohner Porsche and the normally fastidious Porsche press department hasn't issued any details of the Semper Vivus.

The Semper Vivus was a series electric hybrid with its two engines charging the batteries and Porsche electric hub motors delivering the power. More details as they come to hand, though an excellent photo gallery in the meantime.

Before we get to the full write-up, there's also an announcement by Porsche that the "Semper Vivus was the first dual-power vehicle in the history of mankind – for starters we're aware of the sail-and-steam-powered armored warship HMS Warrior, circa 1860. Surely there are others?

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, (Australia's largest Telco), (Australia's largest employment site),,, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon

There was a period of about 100 years when stem was installed but only to assist sails


It really depends how you define dual-power, though imo it\'s a pointless debate no matter how you define it, just as with trying to define the first motorcycle. The Michaux-Perreaux steam velocipede was a human power/steam engine hybrid, developed about 1867. Augustin Mouchot used solar energy to boil water, enough to power a small steam engine circa 1860 as well (though this was never used in a vehicle). How about a cart drawn by both a horse and an ox? Or even a cart heading downhill, isn\'t that animal/gravity powered?


What a useless point made by Porsche! So, what? Are you guys capable of making a ZeroEmission car, or what?

No oil god dammit!!! It\'s so hard to understand?


why worry about it, definitions are nebuous at best, Vehicle can be taken in so many ways as to be indefinable as to exact implication. Wheeled, Afloat, Rail, If they want to call it first of it\'s kind who gives a rats patoot. Their vehicles are over priced, mostly over engineered andout of reach of 90% of the people using \"vehicles\". The whole discussion is moot.


Unless it will run on fairy dust or some other \"magical\" substance there will never truly be a \"zero emission\" car. But I for one do not care! I want my automobile to run on GAS! The earth is always cooking up a new batch of oil and here in North America we have enough oil in the ground in one form or another to run us for the next 2000 years! Why would I EVER want some pain in the ass technology that is twice the effort and half the power and usefulness of an ICE? We are learning how to make combustion more and more efficient every day to the point where the exhaust of most cars are almost cleaner than what it draws in! The engine of freedom is oil and I have NO DESIRE to have these hybrid or alternative powered junk piles! Did you have lights today, or cloths on your back, or a computer to get on the internet or even tires to roll on? Thank oil for that! Our lives would be some much poorer if it was not for that black goo that comes out of the ground! Learn to live with the idea that it\'s going to be around for the rest of our lives.


Have seen it and note that what\'s old is new again. We haven\'t seen the extent of electric hybrid technology by a long short.

I predict that we will see aluminum/water fuel cells as frame members, recapture of virtually all kinetic energy and magnetic-fluid torque converters. Nano-technology and materials advances will make it all possible.


Dual power? Weren\'t there lots of sail plus human power ships and outriggers thousands of years ago in the Mediterranean and in the Pacific?


@mrhuckfin Well mr. all I can say to you: turn your tail pipe inside to your vehicle and get high!!!


@ Mr Huckfin: Oil does bring us plastic and rubber as you have stated. The I.C.E. however, was invented to run on alcohol. It wasn\'t until prohibition, which was when the oil companies purchased congress, that we needed an alternative which was so graciously offered up by the oil companies in the form of gasoline, which was a waste by-product of the manufacturing of lamp oil.

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