Electric cars are all the rage now, but they’ve actually been around for well over 100 years – albeit in a considerably less successful format. Ever since the invention of the motorcar, innovators and clever people with comb-overs have been playing about with the notion of powering such a car by electric. The late 1800s saw a fascination with electric everything – thanks to the popularisation of the electric-device – and that’s why the below were created decades before they would become viable. 1891 Morrison It’s difficult to envisage an electric car in 1891 but the Morrison 1891 managed to become the first electric vehicle in the US. The incredibly underpowered 4 horsepower engine carrying between 6-12 passengers, the top end speed of around 20mph was as exciting as watching cheese mould. 1900 Riker It looks like an old car, but it’s actually an early electric vehicle. Just look at those wooden wheels – looks comfy, doesn’t it? And with 48 battery cells on board, you’d better hope those batteries never caught fire as the wooden bad boy would effectively become a moving furnace if it did. Still, at least it proves the men and women of 1900 had a good imagination for the future of the motor car.
1894 Electrobat You can tell this 1894 Electrobat is a car of the 1800s as it doesn’t look anything like the cars we drive today. It’s a similar design to one of the first combustion engined cars of around the same period except this one has an electric motor in it capable of about 25 miles. Not that you’d want to travel 25 miles in something with just 3hp. Just tie three horses together, it’d be much cheaper. 1901 Riker Torpedo Hmm, naming a car the Torpedo leads to connotations of a sleek, powerful body with the speed of a jet engined – but, rather unfortunately, that’s not the case for the 1901 Riker Torpedo. Sure, it was the fastest electric car by some margin – with one being driven a mile in 63 seconds, but it doesn’t exactly look elegant, does it? 1906 Krieger That’s more like it, a car that is beginning to look slightly modern. The electric 1906 Krieger looked quite posh and sophisticated – and that’s because it was. Believe it or not, this Krieger had a very early form of KERS (the regenerative braking system found in current F1 cars). See, all the F1 lads have done is look back to the past for ‘new’ innovations. Lazy! Detriot Electric Made from 1907 to 1939, the Detroit Electric was owned by some of the most famous stars in Hollywood; from Henry Ford to Jay Leno, the Detroit Electric proves that reliable electric transportation was viable during the early part of the 20th century. 1909 Babcock Bad name aside, the 1909 Babcock was a fairly incredible electric car. Now, bear in mind this was 1909, but this Babcock managed to do 100 miles on a single charge, as reported by the New York Times. Some modern electric cars that cost over £30k struggle to achieve 100miles on a single charge. What’s going on?! 1909 Bailey Aww, isn’t it cute? The 1909 Bailey is definitely the looker of the electric world, but again this notion of old electric cars being superbly reliable and efficient continues to amaze. According to the old reports, this Bailey was one of the most reliable electrics of its era. Think of it as the 20th century version of a Honda Insight.