From the archive: the first electric car to ever feature in Autocar

From the archive: the first electric car to ever feature in Autocar

If the battery layout would be familiar to modern EV owners, the powertrain was highly unusual, even for 1895: the batteries powered a motor that drove a centrally located spindle. The spindle and two connected rollers were located on a slider, which the driver could move back and forth using a lever. The rollers would essentially jam between the surface of two metal discs: sliding them in increased the power, pulling them out decreased it. The metal discs were contested to tooth gears, which drove the rear wheels via a bike-style chain.

The system meant that the electric batteries delivered constant power to the motor, making it far more efficient that most electric powertrains of the time that featured variable power. According to The Autocar, the machine was capable of speeds between three and 13.5mph. It offered a claimed range of around 70-80 miles, and was estimated to cost three shillings to recharge.

The body of the vehicle was placed on top of the running gear. In all, the machine weight around 453kg (around half of which was the accumulators), around a fifth of the weight of the average electric road carriage of the time.

The Autocar was given a brief ride in the carriage in Raglan’s workshop, and also witnessed it completing an 18-mile road trip from Coventry to Birmingham (undertaken sneakily at 0300hrs, because cars weren’t technically legal in the UK at the time).