Electric and Hybrid Cars: A History

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McFarland, 2005 - Transportation - 189 pages
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Far from being a modern conception, electric cars were among the first vehicles on the road. In the formative days of the automobile, a third of cars were electric, and they challenged internal combustion engine-driven vehicles for primacy. Economic and environmental concerns have periodically revived widespread interest in electric cars and hybrid vehicles, and the quest for a non- or less-polluting vehicle that meets consumer's performance demands continues today. The story of the electric car is a long one, and it is still being written.
This illustrated history of electric and hybrid vehicles covers the companies that produced various models; the politics that have surrounded them; the environmental aspects of electric and hybrid vehicles versus internal combustion engines; efforts to overcome technological challenges associated with electric vehicles; marketing strategies through the decades; and public attitudes towards these vehicles throughout their existence. An appendix lists important dates in the history of electric cars, and a glossary defines associated acronyms.

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This book describes and illustrates the history of electric and hybrid cars. It contains some delightful quotable treasures, such as how electric cars were welcomed in the early years of the horseless carriage as a fine solution to the environmental problems in those days, i.e. the manure left behind by horses.
We are talking about the years before 1900, when electric cars held the speed records and outnumbered gasoline cars. The book gives descriptions of battery charging stations in France and London in 1895, and of electric cabs starting in New York in 1896. It quotes an article in Scientific American in 1899 saying that "during the recent snowstorms [the electric cabs] ran under conditions which discouraged even horse [drawn] cabs".
The book tells some wonderful stories, such as about a Columbus agent who gave a test drive for a customer, taking him out of the city to farms, where they ran over stubble fields and tall grass up to the axle, to return to the city and climb a steep hill, clocking up a total of seventy miles on the same charge that day. By 1913, electric cars could travel up to 80 miles on a single charge.
The book tells how sellers touted the electric car's easy operation and maintenance, pointing out that electric cars were "safe, silent and free from offensive odors, smoke and grease". And how one electric car manufacturer praised the electric motor as "clean, silent, free from vibrations, thoroughly reliable, easy of control, and produces no dirt or odor".
This is a wonderful book, if only to keep in your bookcase for an occasion to show your friends that electric cars are not just a recent invention.


The Evolution of the Electric Vehicle
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