Extract from the archives: the first electric car ever presented in Autocar

While the layout of the batteries was familiar to owners of modern electric vehicles, the powertrain was highly unusual even for 1895: the batteries powered a motor that drove a centrally located spindle. The spindle and the two connected rollers were located on a slider, which the driver could move back and forth using a lever. The rollers essentially got stuck between the surface of two metal discs: sliding them increased power, pulling them out decreased it. The metal discs were opposed to cog gears, which drove the rear wheels via a bicycle-style chain.

The system meant that the electric batteries provided constant power to the engine, making it much more efficient than most variable-output electric powertrains of the time. According to The Autocar, the machine was capable of reaching speeds between 3 and 13.5 mph. It offered a claimed range of around 70 to 80 miles and was estimated to cost three shillings to recharge.

The vehicle body was placed on the running gear. In total, the machine weighed about 453 kg (about half of which was accumulators), about a fifth of the weight of the average electric road truck of the time.

The Autocar took a brief ride in Raglan’s workshop car, and also saw him make an 18-mile journey from Coventry to Birmingham (undertaken sneakily at 03:00, as the cars weren’t technically legal at the UK at the time).

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