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Dr. Ferdinand Porsche with the first hybrid motor vehicle
In 1898, the 23-year-old Ferdinand Porsche built his first car, the Lohner Electric Chaise—the world’s first front-wheel-drive vehicle. Porsche’s second car design was a series hybrid (like the Chevrolet Volt, due out in 2010) in which a combustion engine ran a generator that powered electric motors in the wheel hubs. Its battery could take Porsche’s hybrid car nearly 40 miles—the same as promised by the Volt.
After a front-drive Lohner-Porsche carriage sparked interest at the 1900 Paris Salon, a four-wheel-drive version was built. The latter model's storage battery weighed nearly two tons so Porsche added a pair of generators driven by 2.5-hp Daimler IC engines to extend operating range. What Porsche called "mixte" (mixed) propulsion successfully powered military vehicles, fire-fighting equipment, and Mercedes automobiles