Thirty-three years before starting the auto company that bears his name, Ferdinand Porsche designed an electric car. He was a 22-year-old engineer who got the assignment from his boss, Ludwig Lohner, a car builder who had visited the United States and knew that the end was near for the horse and carriage. The original version of Porsche's innovative car, known as the P1 (his first design), was recently discovered in an Austrian shed, where it had been sitting untouched for 115 years. The car was originally unveiled in Vienna in the summer of 1898. It had a top speed of 21 mph (34 km/h), which was pretty speedy at the time. In fact, Porsche drove the car in a 24-mile (39-km) electric car race in 1899 and beat the second-place car by 18 minutes. Electric technology was so new that more than half of the other competitors never made it across the finish line.
How far electric cars have come:
- Porsche's latest gas-electric hybrid, the Panamera Turbo S E-Hybrid, is so fast that it can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 3.4 seconds.
- Electric cars utilize at least four times more of the energy provided by their batteries than gas-powered cars utilize of the power that they generate.
- Electric-powered cars are nothing new -- Scottish inventor Robert Anderson created a crude electric carriage roughly 75 years before Henry Ford introduced his Model T gas-powered car in 1908. /li>