The academic was out on Monday afternoon driving the car, known as the Elektrische Viktoria, or “Electric Victoria,” with four students when he lost control and careened into an embankment near Hinterzarten, according to Baden-Württemberg police.
The 62-year-old was thrown from the car and died at the scene. The students were injured, at least one severely.
The car was modelled on the original, battery-powered 1905 version, which was used as a Berlin hotel taxi. The professor was test driving it ahead of a scheduled appearance at a Siemens event, “Electromobility 1905- 2010: Pioneering feats of the past inspire the future” in Munich, according to daily Die Welt.
The paper also reported that the professor had worked very closely with the company on the electromobility project. The car's appearance has since been cancelled, and Freiburg police plan to hold an autopsy to determine the exact cause of the professor's death, as well as further investigating the vehicle.
Earlier this week, local daily Badische Zeitung reported that the Oldtimer, as such cars are known in Germany, may have had a problem with its brakes.
The Elektrische Viktoria was a boxy, four-seat, battery-powered convertible that Siemens claims was a forerunner in e-mobility. The first replica, built using the original 1905 plans with modifications to the battery, was unveiled in its birthplace Berlin in late April 2010.