Electric Vehicles Back to the Future: A Revolutionary $1,000 EV With Battery Swap Tech and a 100 Mile Range

Published on May 20th, 2010 | by Nick Chambers

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Back to the Future: A Revolutionary $1,000 EV With Battery Swap Tech and a 100 Mile Range

May 20th, 2010 by  
 

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Think electric cars are great? Well, they’ve been great for the better part of a century now — a fact that most people seem to be unaware of. Before Big Oil got its greasy paws in a death-lock stranglehold around our puny little necks, electric cars were the way of the future. Everyone from Ferdinand Porsche to your garden variety backyard inventor saw the simple beauty of the electric drivetrain.

Witness the above 1920 Milburn as a great example of this. While doing a bit of lazy Internet surfing last weekend, I stumbled upon a post over at Plugin Recharge! highlighting this beauty of an antique car with features that would be considered modern even by today’s standards.

The Milburn had swappable batteries, a DC charge port, a 30 mph top speed and a range of 100 miles. It also only cost $1,000 back in the day. According to this handy dandy consumer price index conversion chart, that’s the equivalent of about $11,000 today. Not bad for what’s essentially a Neighborhood Electric Vehicle with a great range… although at the time a Model T was selling for $250, so $1,000 probably seemed rather exorbitant.

The Milburn was also advertised as the first car that a woman could start and drive all by her lonesome, because it didn’t require any manly hand-cranking. According to Mark Thomason over at Plugin Recharge, most cars didn’t get an electric start system until 1926, when the Model T received the treatment as standard fare.

People familiar with the “Who Killed the Electric Car?” story will find it ironic that GM also killed off the electric Milburn when they bought the company back in 1923. What’s up with GM’s pathological hatred of EVs? Ha! Well, maybe the Volt will be different.

The Milburn electrics were produced from 1915 to 1923 and they were even favored by U.S. presidents. Woodrow Wilson’s secret service used them and Wilson used one to tool around the White House grounds. So, why can’t we get the president to drive an EV today? What’s wrong with the world that we’ve come so far yet gone so far backwards?

This particular Milburn is owned by a 72 year old retired electrician, Tom Henry, who now teaches courses on solar technology. You can watch the impressive antique in action below.

Source & Image Credit: Plugin Recharge!


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Not your traditional car guy.



  • This doesn’t surprise me, of course oil companies are going to try to squash the competition, and so far they’ve done a pretty good job.

  • This doesn’t surprise me, of course oil companies are going to try to squash the competition, and so far they’ve done a pretty good job.

  • steve

    Sadly, we are as much to blame as the oil companies.

    But much like all good marketing campaigns, us dumb humans are sucked into thinking what we’re told is best.

    Asbestos, brilliant. But deadly.

    Oil, brilliant, but again, deadly.

    In fact, whatever we do as living beings slowly kills this planet. Even being green. You still need resources for shelter. Fire, food and clothing.

    And as much as I like to think that electric cars are around the corner. So are cheaper solar panels, which I’ve been hearing about since I was a boy who watched Beyond 2000 in amazement.

    I try and be optimistic. But I can’t help but have some cynicism. Do you blame me?

    Steve

  • steve

    Sadly, we are as much to blame as the oil companies.

    But much like all good marketing campaigns, us dumb humans are sucked into thinking what we’re told is best.

    Asbestos, brilliant. But deadly.

    Oil, brilliant, but again, deadly.

    In fact, whatever we do as living beings slowly kills this planet. Even being green. You still need resources for shelter. Fire, food and clothing.

    And as much as I like to think that electric cars are around the corner. So are cheaper solar panels, which I’ve been hearing about since I was a boy who watched Beyond 2000 in amazement.

    I try and be optimistic. But I can’t help but have some cynicism. Do you blame me?

    Steve

  • Tiller steering was standard on quite a few cars at the turn of the 20th century but by 1920 it was a little behind the times. Only a few of the slower moving EV’s still being produced used it. However, I aplaude Tom for keeping his Milburn running. I myself am into Studebakers and would love to collect one of their EV’s built from 1902 to 1912.

    Peter C.

  • Tiller steering was standard on quite a few cars at the turn of the 20th century but by 1920 it was a little behind the times. Only a few of the slower moving EV’s still being produced used it. However, I aplaude Tom for keeping his Milburn running. I myself am into Studebakers and would love to collect one of their EV’s built from 1902 to 1912.

    Peter C.

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