• Oct 2nd 2010 at 12:32PM
  • 27
Back in 1912, Thomas Edison, the mastermind behind the lightbulb, set out with plans to reinvent the automobile. Edison envisioned a vehicle driven by electricity, but first, the battery had to be invented. However, that presented little problem because Edison had already invented the alkaline storage battery in 1901 and spent years perfecting it before placing it in the 1912 Edison electric car. Edison built three prototype electric cars in 1912 to showcase his battery technology. In the 98 years since, two of the cars have apparently vanished, but one of Edison's marvelous battery-powered car is still around.
Bob Burrell of Chelmsford, Essex, holds the keys to the only remaining Edison electric car and, for almost half a century, that vehicle languished in a London Garage. Now, after eight years of renovations, the 1912 Edison is ready to hit the streets again. With an estimated value of at least £1 million ($1.58 million U.S. at the current exchange rate), Burrell's pride and joy could very well be the most valuable historic electric car around, and it makes the Tesla Roadster look downright cheap by comparison. The 1912 electric car, packing 15 two-volt batteries and a 30-volt electric motor, could reach speeds of 25 miles per hour, remarkable for the time. But with a price tag nearly double that of a typical gasoline-powered vehicle back then, Edison's dream car was simply too pricey to catch on (some things never change). Burrell sums up the vehicle and Edison's dream like this:
Edison's vision was to make the longest-lasting battery in the world and the cars he built were a part of that quest. A hundred years ago, Edison said electricity was the future because all of the oil would be pumped out of the ground, but it was decided that more money could be made from taxing petrol. Imagine what we would have now if Edison had been listened to a century ago.
Yeah, if only we had listened.
[Source: Express.co.uk | Image: Gregory Moine - C.C. License 2.0]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      He also owned a Studebaker electric, which cost extra for Edison batteries, over the stock Exide. And "they" did listen: electric cars had a decade-long heyday. They were especially favored by little old ladies who drove mostly on the sidewalk, just like now.

      I'd be interested in seeing your endorsement of his visionary genius regarding DC substations and incandescent filament bulbs. Oh wait, that's different.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Edison also owned a Detroit Electric, which still can be seen at his home in Llewellyn Park, West Orange, NJ. Ford gave it to him: http://www.lincoln-highway-museum.org/EV/EV-02-75.jpg
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just as in Edisons's time, batteries are the automobile power source of the future, and always will be...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Electric cars failed because they cannot compete with the internal combustion engine. That remains true today. Since oil will not run out for at least a century (despite what many alarmists are saying) there's no reason to applaud this relic.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I do wonder how many times you've been told that peak oil is not about oil 'running out', yet continue to use those two words. It's about economical extraction to maintain or increase flow rates. Use Google - production has been essentially flat for 5 years, are you saying that demand wasn't pushing production to increase over the past 5 years? Are you saying that speculates just speculate for fun or do you need a kernel of reason to start a commodity bubble?

        There is an oil 'problem' but with any luck it will turn out not to be a bad one because we *will* be transitioning away from the ICE whether you like it or not.
        • 4 Years Ago
        No one except those who either are incapable of understanding the ideas behind peak oil, or wish to wilfully misrepresent them, thinks that oil is going to 'run out'.
        The proposition is that the flow rate of oil at a low enough price for present patterns of use will reach a maximum, and that further supplies will be increasingly difficult and expensive to extract, the difference, for instance, of simply pumping oil from Al Ghawar in Saudi, and the difficult and expensive process of getting it from the Athabascan tar sands.
        If you are unable to understand that distinction you are hardly qualified to make sensible comments on the argument.
      • 4 Years Ago
      25 mph from 30 volts is surprisingly good, some modern day scooters struggle to do 30 mph on 48 volts.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Wonder what the AH rating was on his batteries and what the c discharge was?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Indeed, but how fast did it get up to 30mph is the question!

        You could go 60mph on that voltage, with the right gearing... weather conditions.. moon phase.. tires.. and a really, really flat road. lol
      • 4 Years Ago
      Not to mention the Baker Electric... Which was several years before this, and Leno's is still using the original batteries. They've been flushed and refilled a few times, sure...

      One of his more recent videos shows the original style charging station he's managed to dig up-- apparently at one time, Chicago (if I recall) had a number of charging stations, and the electric cars were popular with cabbies and women.

      So, sure, Edison may have invented a good battery, but he still fought against AC-- which seems to be the preferred motor for today's electric cars.

      • 4 Years Ago
      Nikola Tesla was the man to listen.
      But greedy people at JP Morgan destroyed him and his vision of better world.
      Petrol will never had this succes if he was listened.Just check this:


      If you care about technology and think you know it got,try to read about Nikola Tesla and see movie about him.If there was the man to save us from all this miserable wars for petrol,and the consequences that petrol produced,than he was the ONE.
      As far as I know 2 or 3 teams in the world are trying to redone what Nikola Tesla was trying to do.

      Please read the link and better, more about N. Tesla and than you can Down me or give a thumb up.thanks for your time.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Kind of makes one wonder if Wardenclyffe Tower ever had a chance of succeeding. Take an electric car and beam it power wirelessly. Even without that, I wonder if it's possible to embed coils in a road and a matching coil the bottom of a car, and have a powered road that wirelessly charges batteries while you drive on it. This could be accomplished via a toll road. While I'm not usually in favor of toll roads (unless they're privately owned on private property) in this case it would make sense. You drive a few miles on this road and your car receives more power than it takes to drive that distance. Would be pretty neat, but I suspect it's a half baked idea.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I just saw a video of something like this being done recently. It was indoors at a college and they were powering an electric vehicle using induction coils from the driving surface. There were no batteries.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Not a bad idea, so it's not surprising that others have thought of it, and some are trying to develop it into a practical working system. It shows a lot of promise, but there are several technical and legal problems to work out first. (legal, in they'd need to set standards and get government permission to install such a system)
      • 4 Years Ago
      "Imagine what we would have now if Edison had been listened to a century ago."

      Yes, and imagine if luminiferous aether was how light traveled between the stars. Every single dreamer insists that electric cars are the way of the future all while ignoring the physics screaming at them that they're mad. As long as folks try to force the technology to fit their ideology humanity suffers.

      Edison wasn't listened to because the technology wasn't there. It's still not there. And until someone can come up with a fast, safe charger that can mimic an oil pump the coal-to-car dream of electric enthusiasts will be stillborn.
        • 4 Years Ago
        And all this happens regardless of the price or availability of oil? And the ~8% pa improvement in battery performance cannot make any diffference at all?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Ha. Here we are, almost a century later.. in the same damn position.

      At least the future of lithium batteries are looking good, and people are finally taking this stuff seriously.
        • 4 Years Ago
        That's Dan in the pink shirt.

        Lol about the lab burning down to the ground.. Car conversion guys probably know a thing or two about that O_O...

        If we would have had lithium batteries way back when, well.. one can only imagine how history would have played out differently eh..

        • 4 Years Ago
        Whoa! Mid Way, you been working out? I can't really see who you are fighting in the picture, I hope you won?

        Edison was working on some new batteries but his lab burned to the ground. Who knows, they may have been lithium? ;)

        I thought there would be a picture of the Edison 2.

      • 4 Years Ago
      I have only one question -- Why is there not a pic of the car??
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'm pretty sure it was Tesla that said that oil will end up eventually. Edison probably tried to steal that away from him too. Or they happened to think alike. Great minds tend to think alike. Edison was a great man, but he was also very ruthless and jealous person with bad ethics. Tesla suffered greatly because of that and even now most people don't know who Tesla was even that almost everyone knows Edison. If you put achievements of those two side-by-side Tesla was a greater man by far.

      Too bad really that Edison was not listened. That gave power to wrong hands and only after century later we are in verge of actually getting in scientific era with portable electric things that oil industry no longer controls, and along them comes electric cars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        At that point there were no "big bad oil people" and that was the point of that comment.
        • 4 Years Ago
        HAHA "Too bad really that Edison was not listened. That gave power to wrong hands and only after century later we are in verge of actually getting in scientific era with portable electric things that oil industry no longer controls, and along them comes electric cars."

        Do just a little bit of research, the first cars were electric, steam, or gas. Gas won because of range and simplicity. Not because of those big bad oil people............
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