I truly enjoyed reading this article on Winding Road about the largest existing collection of early electric cars in existence. The owner of the vehicles is James Cousens, and he is a true aficionado of the genre. The early market for electric cars was primarily for women married to well-to-do men, who could afford to make a purchase of this magnitude for their wives. For instance, the 1912 Baker Electric Special Extension Coupe which resides in the collection cost $2,700 at the time, which equals about $57,000 in today's funds.
Cousens explains that each of the electric cars in his collection are pretty comparable to the Neighborhood Electric Vehicles that are available for purchase today, with a speed of about 35 miles per hour and a range of 40-50 miles on a single charge. Fancy electronics were not available at that time, so the throttle of the early electric cars relied on engaging or disengaging additional contacts on the electric motor. If you are familiar with radio controlled cars, this is kind of like the manual speed controllers that sometimes come with the least expensive kits. With this type of system, the cars should be most efficient at roughly top speed. The cars all use deep-cycle lead-acid batteries like the ones that are used in golf carts today.
The article is a highly entertaining read, so I recommend that you take a look!
[Source: Winding Road]