Hybrid and electric cars and the return to… the past

Electric Cars

We now have got used to reading about hybrid and electric cars.

We also begin to know more about it, about the declared potential and also the real ones.

We are told that the future of mobility is the electric car, the hybrid car is the transition and having doubts about this means being a retrograde polluter.

Notwithstanding reading about hybrid and electric cars and their performance it really seems like a throwback to the… past.

One hundred and twenty-five years ago – 1896 – the first examples of the Krieger were already on sale in France, a small car powered by two electric motors that boasted a range of about 60 kilometres.

Practically contemporary to the tricycles and quadricycles of De Dion Bouton, the Krieger was competitive with the rivals of the time. It was easier to drive (and to start), more quiet, no less reliable.

Within two years, the Kriegers became lighter and the autonomy range increased to 80/90 kilometres (even at that time it depended on the weight and size of the batteries).

The Krieger was produced under license in many European countries. In Italy it was the STAE of Turin that built and marketed them starting from 1905.

It was also produced in a hybrid version with a petrol engine that powered the two electric motors and was the first hybrid to be put on sale.

Porsche himself began his career as a designer by making an electric car and then a hybrid one. The Lohner Porsche “Semper Vivus” released in 1900 was fitted with two De Dion engines – Bouton petrol engines that acted as generators to power the batteries.
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If we look at the United States, electric cars were even more popular.
In 1900 four thousand out of 1600 vehicles produced were electric. One-third of the New York and Chicago fleet was electrically powered, and nearly half for New York taxis.

Manufacturers such as Baker Electric, Detroit Electric and Rauch & Lang Brougham (the last one commemorated by Walt Disney as Grandma Duck’s car) were already able to produce significant volumes for the time and they competed with car manufacturers with engines endothermic for the price as well.
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In the United States – unlike what happened in Europe – the car was immediately considered a means of transport and not an expensive sports toy or an expression of social status. Simplicity of driving and the absence of fumes and noise made it immediately competitive with petrol cars.
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And this explains the initial greater diffusion of electric cars in the country of Standard Oil and other large oil companies.

The evolution of internal combustion engines was rapid and, within a decade, electric cars almost disappeared from the market, relegated predominantly to a urban use.

The weakness of the electric cars was the autonomy even at that time, with limits not different from the current ones.

Now we start again. Almost from the same point, with still limited and limiting autonomies, weights and dimensions that make you think.

The development of new generation batteries is expected to be rapid and significant.

But what about the recharge?

Our grandparents and great-grandparents used the car differently from us. We are used to having the gas station close to our house and we are even impatient if we have more than one person queuing.

It takes only a few minutes to fill up.
But what will it happen in a few years?
How many of us will have chosen the electric or the plug-in and how long will we have to queue up and wait for charging even just half an hour?
Or arguing with the neighbours who occupy the building charging station?

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