Before the age of motoring vehicles, the popular form of transport was the horse-drawn carriage. In 1898, a man named Ludwig Lohner called upon Ferdinand Porsche to change the world forever. A young Ferdinand Porsche was captivated by electricity, to the point he electrified his father’s workshop at just 13 years old. As a result of this, Porsche’s mother, Anna, sought it best that Porsche pursued his passions at the evening class at the Staatsgewerbeschule in Reichenberg. Years later, when working in electrical engineering, Porsche was put onto Lohner’s radar, after he had built an electric motor to drive the rear wheel of the bicycle he used to commute to work. Ludwig employed the 23 year old after Ferdinand pitched his design for a front-wheel drive automobile. The result was the world’s first electric vehicle; the Phaeton C2 (commonly referred to as ‘P1’).
Porsche was pleased to be in the employment of Lohner for the creation of the C2 Phaeton. Naturally, Porsche was very attached to his creation, and felt he would not be appropriately recognised for his achievement. Ferdinand decided to take the strategic move, of engraving “P1” (Porsche No.1) onto all key components to secure his legacy. This wonderful machine achieved a great deal of attention in 1900 at the Expo in Paris, and the public were particularly fascinated by the electric components designed by Porsche. Later in history, this car became less commonly known as the Phaeton C2 and is now mostly referred to as the Porsche P1.
The ground-breaking engine was capable of producing 3bhp, though it could produce 5bhp when put into an “overclocking” mode. The top-speed achieved in the P1 was 21mph. These speeds are overshadowed by today’s standards, however for the time-period this was regarded as very fast. The P1 entered into the International Motor Vehicle Exhibition in Berlin, Sept 1899. This was a 64-mile round-trip race between Berlin and Zehlendorf, with varying inclines, top-speed straights and out of the 8 competing models, more than 50% did not reach the finish. Porsche took the P1 over the finish-line, an entire 18 minutes before second place. On top of the incredible speed, the motor vehicle achieved an award for the best energy consumption in urban traffic.
The world-changing, electric, Egger-Lohner C2 Phaeton, became overshadowed by it’s successor, the Lohner-Porsche Semper Vivus Hybrid car. So the P1 was stored away into an Austrian barn in 1902, where it then sat for 112 years. Thankfully, in 2014 it was rediscovered and has since been taken into the care of the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart, still available to view today.