Early Electric Cars

Today we will be looking into early electrical cars, generally designed for one person such as The Solo and similar. Why didn’t these cars go mainstream and why did people at the time prefer gas vehicles? Things do change but why were these cars so ahead of their time?

The Solo was made by ElectraMeccanica based in Vancouver, Canada. It was built for just one person. The sales pitch was simple, why drive with empty seats. The advantage of this is to cheaper to build and retails at a comparatively reduced price.

Technically it is a motorbike rather than a car as it has three wheels (why cars can’t be called cars unless they have four wheels is not clear). Many three wheeled vehicles have the one wheel at the front, but the Solo has the one wheel at the rear of the vehicle.

Although the modern idea of electric cars is to save energy and riding around in an electric car by yourself may fly in the face of modern idealists but ElectraMeccanica had a decent idea. According to the Census Bureau90% of Americans drive alone, so why not get the saving on both the purchase an operation of your commuter vehicle.

It’s unclear why people seem to prefer to drive a car designed for three or more passengers rather than single cars, maybe people want to keep seats in reserve, or they feel claustrophobic in a tiny car. Or maybe a 3 wheeled electric car is somewhat geeky? Hard to say.

Other single person vehicles include the Bond Bug and the Corbin Sparrow.

Let’s take these one by one.

The Bond Bug is a Reliant car whose color makes it resemble an orange wedge of cheese, or a German Bubble car. It doesn’t so much have a door as a compartment which opens up.

The Corbin Sparrow has three models, the Jellybean, the Hatchback and Pizza Butt. Sparrows featured in the Austin Powers movies because they look so novel. They were manufactured in Ohio with the byline “NmG” – No more Gas.

They were plans for the company to go beyond a single electric car and into creating a Duo in 2009 running on lithium ion batteries but plans were shelved, likely because everyone suddenly jumped onto the electric car bandwagon and it’s hard to compete with major manufacturers when they join your little niche.

Okay, so they’re tiny, but why did all these makers decide to go electric?

These cars were so small that they couldn’t be gas propelled or hybrid, they had to be electric. It’s not just being kind to the environment, they have to run on electric propulsion. They weighed more than a bike so they needed more power, but they were too small for safe gas tank.

Then and Now

There was never a mass production of electric vehicles until 2010 and there were plenty of automakers that tried their hand at it. Enough so it could be said there wasn’t a market for it.

It’s taken a government grant to the consumer to drive sales which could fall off quickly for two reasons. 1st if the cars are actually inferior, which they don’t have to be, but they might be. And 2nd, because they aren’t really saving the environment.

After all 64% of the electric grid is still based around fossil fuels such as coal and gas. Those supporting ecological issues would prefer this to be lower, but it all comes down to cost.

Still things are changing, there is a noticeable increase in cars run off wall sockets and battery packs, though they aren’t as revolutionary in appearance as the Solo, Bond Bug or Corbin Sparrow.

So, we solute the pioneers of the electric car, even if they couldn’t stand the competition once the government bribed people to buy on a large scale. If electric cars are going to corner the market we’ll need the major manufacturers to supply the demand. It’s sad for the smaller companies though who probably only wanted to carve out a niche.

One thought on “Early Electric Cars

  1. Pingback: Best of the Web: Solo EV video | The Kicker Blog

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