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Electric Cars

Early electric vehicles may have appeared as early as 1830. Scottish inventor Robert Davidson constructed the world's first prototype electric vehicle in 1837, but historians generally credit J.K. Starley, an English inventor, and Fred M. Kimball of Boston with building the first practical electric cars in 1888. Later in the in the decade, William Morrison of Des Moines, Iowa, constructed his version of the electric vehicle in 1891. His vehicle required 24 storage battery cells, took 10 hours to charge, and could run for 13 hours. It could carry up to 12 people and had a 4-horsepower motor. His car could reach speeds up to 14 miles per hour. Morrison, however, never mass-produced his vehicle. The first commercially produced electric vehicle was the Electrobat. It was manufactured by Philadelphia-based Morris and Salom Company. In 1896, the Woods Motor Vehicle Company of Chicago became the first American manufacturer of electric cars.The Electrobat was one of several electric cars, which competed in a race sponsored by Illinois publisher H.H. Kohlsaat. He had challenged inventors to come up with a car that could travel the distance from Chicago to Evanston and back (58 miles). Electric cars and gas cars competed against each other in this competition. Although none of the cars performed in an especially notable manner, the electric cars failed miserably. It seemed that the slushy country roads generated a great deal of friction, which drained the strength of the batteries quickly.Shortly after the Kohlsaat race, Thomas Edison said he believed gasoline, not electricity, would provide the dominant power source for the automobile of the future. "As it looks at the present," he said, "it would seem more likely that (the cars) will be run by a gasoline or naphtha motor of some kind. It is quite possible. However, that an electric storage battery will be discovered which will prove more economical, but at the present the gasoline or nap...

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