As today’s electric vehicles become more affordable and mainstream, many people may not realize electric vehicles have been around for quite some time. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History (NMAH) is shining the spotlight on historic electric vehicles during its America on the Move Electrifying Cars exhibition.
The exhibit showcases the history of the electric car from the early 20th century to today. Several electric vehicles are part of the display:
- With speeds up to 15 miles per hour and able to travel 40 miles on a single charge, the Connecticut-built 1904 Columbia Electric Runabout was an electric vehicle powered by 20 two-volt cells. Despite the fact it had to be started with a crank handle, the Columbia was the best-selling car in the United States at the turn of the century.
- The gasoline-powered 1913 Ford Model T touring car included a battery to power the electric starter and headlights.
- A battery charger for General Motors’ revolutionary, battery-powered, emission-free EV1 electric car is also part of the display. The sleek and futuristic EV1, introduced in 1996 for lease only, required no oil changes, mufflers or break maintenance. But several years after its launching, GM pulled all the vehicles from the market and crushed the entire fleet except for a few that were disabled and donated to museums or kept by GM for research purposes. The NMAH has the only surviving, fully intact EV1. But the car was eventually removed from display.
The Electrifying Cars exhibition, located on the 1st Floor in the Transportation Hall, runs from October 2011 through January 2012.