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World's first electric car - made in 1910, up for auction

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 16th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Left by the wayside with the introduction of gas-burning engines, the world's first electric car, the Detroit Electric Model D, first manufactured in 1910 is now expected to fetch $80,000 at auction. While today it looks comical - box-like, and only able to reach 25 miles per hour, the Model D was a precursor of today's popular hybrid cars.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Model D shares something in common with today's hybrids. The wobbly, golf buggy contraption had to be recharged every 100 miles, from a giant six-foot battery before every journey. 

Manufacturing came to an end in the Twenties when the mass production of the petrol car left the Model D in its wake. While the 1910 Detroit Electric Model D cost $2,397 at the time, the equivalent of $135,881 today, modern-day electric cars such as the Nissan Leaf are now priced at around $40,000.

In fact, in the early 20th century, electric cars were preferred over the early gas versions as it was simple to operate and was a lot quieter - as is the case with hybrids today. Henry Ford, founder of The Ford Motor Company, bought two Detroit electric cars for his wife Clara for this reason.

"Electric cars are all the rage now but Detroit Electric was doing very well with them 100 years ago," Rupert Banner, a car specialist at auctioneers Bonhams says.

"The company became the most successful manufacturer of electric cars and this is a very early version of what they produced. They were very popular into the 1920s.

"This one still has the same interior it had back then and has been well preserved. It's like stepping back in time. It has been in a museum for a number of years now.

"It's a very interesting car and it still has its original transforming unit with it, which is extremely rare. It looks like something you could power an entire grid with these days, it is so big. Once the petrol car came in the days of the Detroit Electric Model were always going to be numbered.

"People could go longer distances and there were now no limitations, which especially in a country as big as America made all of the difference. Detroit was unquestionably the most successful at the electric cars though, that is without question."

The new owner car will come with its original charger.

In recent years, Detroit Electric has been in negotiations with companies in China and Malaysia about reviving the brand. The car will be sold at auction in Scottsdale, Arizona this January 17.

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