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Porsche’s NY Auto Show Pre Party: The Altman Building, W18th Street

April 21st, 2011 by Stu

Pictured: Porsche CEO and President Detlev von Platen, addressing industry insiders at the show’s kick off party at The Altman Building

Porsche used century old hybrid technology to sell the future at a pre NY auto show party for their $95k 2012 Panamera S Hybrid. Alongside the shiny new HEV sports sedan making its North American debut, the brand also showed off a one-of-a-kind recreation of Semper Vivus, a hybrid built by Ferdinand Porsche in the year 1900. Sorry to Prius and Insight, but Porsche says it’s the world’s first serial and functional hybrid.

So what does any auto company do when they want to pay homage to a century old vehicle that only exists in archived design department sketches? Rebuild it of course. Porsche started building Semper Vivus back in 2007, having to fabricate nearly every single part of the vehicle from scratch. She cost the better part of a million to build and, from what Alchim tells me, the car nearly identical to the original in every way. Expect to see judges drooling all over it at vintage blue ribbons like Goodwood Festival of Speed and Pebble Beach Concours later this year.

Much like the Chevy Volt, the Semper Vivus, which translates to always moving, is a range extended EV that does not use combustion to send power to the wheels. Rather, when the massive lead batteries are depleted, two-tiny 1-cylinder motors send juice to two 2.5-kilowatt generators that keep electricity flowing to the wheels. Of course, the Volt has a plug and uses Lithium batteries instead of lead. I’m told combined torque from the wheel-mounted motors is more 220 lb-ft and its pretty spirited to drive despite the hefty 3,700 lbs curb weight. Porsche tells us that total range is 200 KM and EV-only is 40 KM. Top speed is 35 MPH. Not bad for a 111 year old design huh.

One really interesting detail, the massive wheels are made from solid rubber to accommodate the 3,700 pound load. There is actually no air in them. Instead, the tire is solid rubber that was chiseled to shape.

Porsche has obviously got the hybrid fever and wants to piggyback on Cayenne Hybrid’s success (currently represents 18% of Cayenne volume) with a similarly equipped version of their Panamera (currently represents 30% of brand volume). Hopefully Semper Vivus will help the brand to stake their claim alongside the likes of Toyota and Honda for hybrid bragging rights and credibility.

Also on hand was Porsche’s 911 GT3R Hybrid racer, decked out in special livery to celebrate the brand’s 1 million fan following on Facebook.

Lots of eye candy after the jump. Stay with us throughout the week for further auto show coverage.

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