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PHOTO CAPTION: One hundred years ago electric cars were popular for their ease of use and low maintenance.

100 Years Later We're Back to Electric

After 100 years, everything old in the automotive industry is new again.

Published: 01-Jan-2010

If we could step into Mr. Peabody's Wayback Machine (gotta love the Rocky and Bullwinkle show) and set the dial to this day in 1910, here's what we'd find.

At the beginning of the second full decade of the motoring age, a new company based in Toledo was just getting in on the automotive craze popularized by the Detroit Electric and Baker Electric. The Ohio Electric Car Co., which would last only until 1918, became one of many builders of electric vehicles which were ideal for driving around in North America's bigger cities where they weren't handicapped by their short range (65 km or so) and their slower speeds (30- 50 km/h).

They didn't smell, didn't smoke and were quiet to operate. That made them a must-have accessory for the fashionable, well-to-do woman. And make no mistake: it was women who were targeted by the advertising. Until the invention of the self-starter in 1913, madam didn't have to risk life and limb by spinning the hand crank. With an electric car, she simply got in, turned the magnetic controller that governed vehicle speed and quietly drove away.

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