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Oddly enough, the competition between gasoline fueled and electric powered cars for the public’s attention is nothing new. Mrs. Henry Ford never drove a Model T; instead Henry gave her a 1914 Detroit Electric Model 47 Brougham, which she drove until 1930. Mrs. Harvey Firestone, Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and Mrs. Thomas Edison also owned and drove Detroit Electrics. The Anderson Electric Car Company manufactured that car. The Detroit models could run 80 miles on a single charge, with a top speed of about 25 mph. In 1914 a Detroit Electric set a single charge record of just under 250 miles! The Detroit Electric was powered by a battery pack of fourteen 6 Volt batteries – originally from the Thomas Edison Company.

The roads of that day were made of dirt and brick and uneven stones and cars seldom topped 25 mph whether powered by gas or electricity. Most traveled at 10 mph. Thousands of electrics were sold in New York, from 1905 to 1915. Charging stations were all over town. Ladies of means preferred them. They merely got in and went. No cranking to start, and no gears to shift to get going. Their cars were recharged while they were in the better stores of the day. Regenerative braking was also a feature of the Detroit Electrics.

Eventually electrics left the field. The advent of the electric starter on gasoline cars and the short range of electric cars crushed electric cars. Now they’re making a come back. Is it for real? Will it last? Which ones are worth buying?