The History of the Electric Vehicle and The London Electric Bus Company

Today, the sight of an electric car is not that uncommon anymore. Thanks to advanced technology, cars that run on electricity are becoming more common everyday. In fact, when combined with hybrid vehicles that use a small gas motor, then it’s possible to see one each and every day you are out on the road.

However, because this revolution in vehicle design didn’t really get off the ground until 2008, most people believe that electric cars did not really exist before then. In fact, not only did electrical vehicles exist, they were quite abundant in the late 19th century and early part of the 20th century. At that time, electric cars were then replaced by those with internal combustion engines that ran on cheap gasoline. But for a time, electrical vehicles were quite common.

The History of the Electric Car

leadacidFrom the 1890s to the 1920s, electrical vehicles were the preferred method of individual motorized travel as they produce little in the way of noise, were more comfortable and were easier to operate than gasoline engines. In fact, many electrical vehicles set speed records and were very efficient for their time..

Interestingly enough, the first electrical vehicle was the German Flocken Elektrowagen that was built in 1888. It mostly resembled a horse carriage without the horse in front. Still, its lightweight design allowed it to move along the road at a rather comfortable pace. Camille Jenatzy managed to be the first to break 100km per hour or 62 mph in 1899 in a “rocket-shaped” vehicle.

Because battery designs were relatively simple and vehicles were not nearly as heavy or complicated as they are today, there was battery exchange companies set up in the US that allowed for vehicle owners to exchange their batteries once they ran low and pay a charging fee. This simple system allowed people to easily switch out batteries quickly and get back on the road. By 1911, even the New York Times stated that electrical vehicles were cleaner, quieter and more economical than their gasoline counterparts.

The London Electric Bus Company

londonvictorianOne of the more interesting experiments with electrical vehicles was the London Electrobus Company which delivered its first model in 1907. Within a year, the company had 20 buses on the London streets and was very popular with the passengers. However, by 1909 the entire company had collapsed due to a series of frauds, misunderstanding and outright overcharging for their buses.

In some ways, it was actually amazing that the bus company lasted as long as they did. But their innovative battery-changing system which took three minutes combined with their quiet, smooth ride compared to petrol engines made them very popular indeed. As it was, it would take nearly a century for commuters to experience that kind of ride again.

Today, electrical vehicles are still based on the same principles as their century-old counterparts. A quiet, smooth ride, easy operation and simple recharging systems made these electrical vehicles popular back in the day as they do right now.