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Porsche is days from revealing the first hybrid 911 in the iconic’s sports car’s history. But it is far from the first hybrid to wear the Porsche name. In fact, company founder Ferdinand Porsche pioneered the hybrid with his advanced 1899 Semper Vivus automobile.

Wait, the 911 is going hybrid!? That quirky, beloved German sports car, long applauded for analog technology such as a rear-mounted, air-cooled engine is getting a major 21st century update. Porsche has long promised that half its sales would be hybrid or electric by 2025. And with the Porsche Taycan EV exploding in popularity and outselling the 911, it makes sense that the brand’s flagship car is going hybrid.

Formula 1 has long used hybrid powertrains, so its no shock that the hybrid 911 will be faster. On an exhibition lap of the Nürburgring, it clocked in at seven minutes and 16.934 seconds. That’s faster than the 997-generation 911 GT2 RS’s fastest lap. This will be a seriously quick Porsche. Chance are it’ll claim about 500 horsepower and replace the Carrera S trim. Start saving your pennies because it’ll also likely start around $150,000.

“For the first time in our icon’s 61-year history, we are installing a hybrid drive system in a roadgoing 911. This innovative performance hybrid makes the 911 even more dynamic…We left nothing to chance during development and tested the new 911 under all sorts of conditions all over the world from the freezing cold to scorching heat, as was the case during the final stages of testing in Dubai. Whether at a high drivetrain load in the demanding conditions of mountain passes or in the stop-and-go traffic of an urban environment, the new 911 has mastered even the most difficult challenges with aplomb. All in all, our engineers and test drivers clocked up more than 3.1 million miles of development driving.”

Frank Moser, Porsche Vice President of Model Line 911 and 718

Porsche loves to mention that in 2010 it raced a hybrid 911 GT2 R and even released the powrtrain as a 918 Spyder. But Ferdinand Porsche’s hybrid history goes back even further.

Before he’d named a sports car company after himself, Porsche was experimenting with different powertrains. This makes sense because at the turn of the century, no one was sure if petroleum cars would prove the best means of transportation. So Ferdinand Porsche teamed up with Ludwig Lohner and they built a prototype for the Paris Exposition, like nothing the world would see for another century. It had small electric hub motors inside the wheels and a large cell battery. They named this early EV the Semper Vivus.

There was only one problem: 1899 battery technology was not up to a full EV. Porsche’s first car weighed in at 2,600 pounds (a lot for 1899) and fell short of his range targets. So he reduced the size of the battery and a gasoline powered generator to recharge the batteries on the fly.

Ferdinand Porsche sits at the steering wheel of his 1899 hybrid car.
Lohner-Porsche Semper Vivus | Porsche

The result was the first “series hybrid” or “range-extended EV.” It is a very compelling configuration because it offers all the low-end torque of an EV, without the heavy batteries. With a small battery it has plenty of juice for a trip around town. But you can also fill up the gas tank and go on a roadtrip. The result is quicker and more fuel efficient than a regular internal combustion car.

The truth is that Ferdinand Porsche’s vision was far beyond the technology available to him in the 1890s. It did become a popular configuration for diesel locomotives decades ago. And today, series hybrid automobiles are making a comeback. Examples include the Chevrolet Volt, BMW i3, and Ram’s upcoming “Ramcharger” pickup truck.

The upcoming Porsche 911 hybrid will likely be a through-the-road hybrid with a regular flat-six engine powering the rear wheels and an electric motor up front. But perhaps Porsche’s next move will be a range-extended Taycan, which would be a return to Porsche’s series hybrid roots from 125 years ago.

Next read about the first EV built in 1881, or watch Porsche test the new hybrid 911 in the video below: