Thursday, January 14, 2010

Electric cars then and now, at the Detroit auto show

OK, I lied. Here’s a little blurb from the North American International Auto Show that actually has to do with cars. But not the new, shiny kind.

It’s sort of funny that so much of the hubbub inside Cobo Hall this week surrounds the progression of electric cars, when out in the Cobo concourse, this tasty little 1922 Detroit Electric is on display.

Turns out, the Detroit Electric Car Company made more than 12,000 of them between 1907 and 1939. Eventually, though, the superior range of gas-fueled cars, along with the advent of the electric starters on gas-powered cars, pushed electric vehicles to extinction. Detroit Electric made about 1,900 cars in 1916, but produced only 143 of this 1922 model.

It probably didn’t help that electric cars topped out at about 25 mph and had a range of about 60 miles. In one of these babies, it would take about six hours to drive to Mt. Pleasant to have a beer with Rae & Toddley, but it wouldn’t matter because you’d run out of juice somewhere along I-96.