Take the story of chemist Pedro Salom and inventor Henry Morris. The duo cruised the streets of Philadelphia aboard their 'Electrobat,' one of the first automobiles, on August 31, 1894. It took the duo a mere two months to build the 4,400-pound vehicle – a whopping 1,600 pounds of which came from the lead-acid batteries that let the Electrobat achieved a range somewhere between 50-100 miles (to compare, the battery pack in the Tesla Roadster weighs in at 900 lbs and the Nissan Leaf's is 660 lbs).
The Electrobat 2, much trimmer than the original at 1,800 pounds overall, was used by Morris and Salom's Electric Carriage and Wagon Company's successful Manhattan taxi service, which boasted a thousand passengers in April 1897. To mitigate the electric range problem, the Electric Storage Battery Company, which bought the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company, commissioned an impressive battery swap system (you don't say).
The future seemed promising when investors and an experienced mass producer got involved in the business. Expansion took place and offices were opened in Boston, New Jersey, Chicago, and Newport. Unfortunately, the success of the electric cab service was short lived. Mismanagement, lack of driver training, and poor care of the batteries led to its demise.
Now that the electric vehicle industry is once again gaining steam, perhaps we'll soon see a successful modern version of what these visionaries dreamed up over 100 years ago.
[Source: The Atlantic]