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Lost tech redux – why killed the electric car?



Cruising around the Interwebs the other day and came across this photo of Detroit, USA, circa 1917. Thing to notice is the small car centre left, which looks to be none other than a Detroit Electric vehicle from the Anderson Electric Car Company.


What’s remarkable is the fact that the car could run for 80 miles on one charge, and in fact one managed 211 miles on a single charge in tests. OK, so top speed was 20 mph, but even so, this was over 80 years ago! How many other interesting, valuable and sidelined technologies are there which we could harvest again today?

The weird thing is the fact that there is still a Detroit Electric company making electric vehicles, albeit of a much more exotic style. [Via the ever excellent Reddit].


Oh and for those with an interest in vintage America, this awesome video of a tram ride in San Francisco 1905 is simply unmissable.

 Notable people who owned Detroit Electrics cars included Thomas Edison, Charles Proteus Steinmetz and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. who had a pair of Model 46 roadsters. Clara Ford, the wife of Henry Ford, drove Detroit Electrics from 1908, when Henry bought her a Model C coupe with a special child seat, through the late teens. Her third car was a 1914 Model 47 brougham.

1 Comment

  • Another thing to consider:

    In the late 1920s, General Motors slyly began purchasing trolley systems throughout the U.S. (in cities like El Paso, Baltimore, Tulsa, Cedar Rapids, and many others) specificially for the sake of shutting them down, ripping up the tracks, & tearing down the overhead wires. In fact, GM and a number of its allies were indicted in the late '40s on federal antitrust charges. The companies & executives involved were essentially slapped on the wrists and the gasoline-powered automotive industry flourished.

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