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


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!

Nick Chambers

Not your traditional car guy.