The story in pictures of the early electric cars, 1880-1920


Early electric cars found a lucrative market for driving around cities. Rechargeable batteries did not exist until 1859, providing a viable means for storing electricity on a vehicle, with the invention of the lead-acid battery by French physicist Gaston Plante.

Possibly the first human-carrying electric vehicle with its own power source was tested on a street in Paris in April 1881 by French inventor Gustave Trouve.

In 1880 Trouwe improved the efficiency of a small electric motor developed by Siemens (from a design purchased from Johann Kravogl in 1867) and fitted it to an English James Starley tricycle, using a recently developed rechargeable battery, allowing The world's first electric vehicle was invented. Although it was successfully tested on 19 April 1881 along the Rue Valois in central Paris, he was unable to patent it.

English inventor Thomas Parker, who was responsible for innovations such as electrification of the London Underground, overhead tramways in Liverpool and Birmingham, and smokeless fuel collet, built the first production electric car in Wolverhampton in 1884, although the only documented is a photograph from 1895. . ,

France and the United Kingdom were the first countries to support the widespread development of electric vehicles. German engineer Andreas Falken built the first real electric car in 1888.

Electric trains were also used to move coal out of the mines, as their motors did not use up precious oxygen. Before the superiority of internal combustion engines, the electric automobile also set many speed and distance records.

The most notable of these records was the breaking of the 100 km/h (62 mph) speed barrier by Camille Genatzi on 29 April 1899 in his 'rocket-shaped' vehicle Jamais Contenet, which reached 105.88 km/h (65.79 mph). hours).

Also Ferdinand Porsche's design and construction of an all-wheel drive electric car, powered by a motor in each hub, also set several records in the hands of its owner, EW Hart.

The first electric car in the United States was developed in 1890–91 by William Morrison of Des Moines, Iowa; The vehicle was a six-passenger wagon capable of reaching speeds of 23 kilometers per hour (14 mph).

It wasn't until 1895 that consumers began to pay attention to electric vehicles, when Europeans had been using electric tricycles, bicycles, and cars for almost 15 years, until AL Raiker introduced the first electric tricycle in America.

Golden Age Of Electric Cars

Interest in motor vehicles increased greatly in the late 1890s and early 1900s. Electric battery-powered taxis became available in the late 19th century.

In London, Walter Burcy designed a fleet of such cabs and introduced them to the streets of London in 1897. They were soon nicknamed "Hummingbirds" because of the silly humming they made.

In New York City that same year, Samuel's Electric Carriage and Wagon Company began operating 12 electric Hansome cabs. The company ran for 62 cabs until 1898, until it was reformed by its financiers to form the Electric Vehicle Company.

Electric vehicles had several advantages over competitors in the early 1900s. They didn't have the vibrations, smells and noises associated with gasoline cars.

They didn't even require a gear change. Cars were also preferred because they did not require manual effort to start, as did gasoline cars that had a hand crank to start the engine.

Electric cars gained popularity among well-heeled customers, who used them as city cars, where their limited range proved less of a disadvantage.

Electric cars were often marketed as vehicles suitable for female drivers because of their ease of operation; In fact, early electric cars were tarnished by the belief that they were "women's cars", leading some companies to affix radiators to the front to hide the car's propulsion system.

Acceptance of electric cars was initially hindered by a lack of electrical infrastructure, but by 1912, many homes had been wired for electricity, leading to a rise in the popularity of the cars.

By the turn of the century in the United States, 40 percent of automobiles were powered by steam, 38 percent by electricity, and 22 percent by gasoline.

A total of 33,842 electric cars were registered in the United States, and the number of electric cars in the U.S. It became the country where electric cars gained the most acceptance. Electric car sales were at their peak in the early 1910s.

An interchangeable battery service was first proposed as early as 1896, to address the limited operating range of electric vehicles and the lack of recharging infrastructure.

The concept was first put into practice by the Hartford Electric Light Company via GeVeCo battery service and was initially available for electric trucks.

The vehicle owner purchased the vehicle from General Vehicle Company (GVC, a subsidiary of General Electric Company) without a battery, and power was purchased from Hartford Electric via an exchangeable battery.

The owner paid a variable per mile fee plus a monthly service fee to cover the maintenance and storage of the truck. Both the vehicles and the battery were modified to facilitate rapid battery exchange.

The service was provided between 1910 and 1924 and covered over 6 million miles during that period. In early 1917, the Milburn Wagon Company in Chicago operated a similarly successful service for car owners who could also purchase vehicles without batteries.

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