When thinking about an electric car, most people would cast their minds to a recent invention, with new electric-powered vehicles growing in popularity as fossil fuels are replaced with greener alternatives. Few would think that electric cars go back more than a century, with one model in particular by Lohner-Porsche being the centre of the show at World Expo 1900 in Paris.
Ferdinand Porsche was only 23 when he teamed up with Vienna-based coach builder Ludwig Lohner. The two developed and built an innovative electric powered vehicle using battery powered electric motors that were directly attached to the front wheel hubs, with the possibility of doing the same on the back wheels. Capable of starting without a handle and with a driving autonomy of 20 minutes, the Lohner-Porsche was a major innovation in transportation that marked a turning point in motorised personal transport (an earlier electric powered two-wheeled cycle was presented at Expo 1867 Paris by Franz Kravogl, but it was deemed too unsafe for public use).
Making its major debut at Expo 1900, the vehicle amazed the public and received the Gold Medal in its category. Its success led to Porsche being known throughout Europe as a leader in the new and rapidly growing car market. Only a few months later, Lohner and Porsche released the Lohner-Porsche Mixed Hybrid, a modified version of the electric vehicle that included a petrol engine, creating the world’s first ever hybrid car.
The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) is the intergovernmental organisation in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos, Specialised Expos, Horticultural Expos and the Triennale di Milano.