Until recently, electric vehicles were considered such fringe and far out contraptions that companies only ever produced small batches of them, either for experiments or to meet government mandates. Of the estimated 100 DKW Audi Elektro-Wagens produced in 1956, there are just two known survivors, one of which just underwent a major restoration.
As Autoblog first reported, the exceedingly rare EV actually began life as a rather benign Schnellaster delivery van, which saw its two-stroke gas engine replaced by an extremely limited electric drivetrain. The 6.7 horsepower electric motor limited top speed to 25 MPH, though that low speed allowed it to drive up to 50 miles between charges, which isn’t all that much less than many current production EVs.
Audi Tradition undertook the restoration of the Elektro-Wagen, adding it to the German brand’s historic car collection. These days, electric delivery vans are becoming ever more commonplace, but there was a time when such vehicles were a true novelty. This particular batch was mostly sold to energy companies and utilities, and was never offered to the general public.
Flash forward to today, and Audi is still being cautious regarding electric vehicles. However, they’re also taking the first steps towards fielding a wide-range of plug-in cars the public can buy at will. It’s taken a long time to get to this point, but even a thousand-mile journey begins with the first step.