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Some EV History - Page C

Last updated 2018.12.26

Introduction | Acknowledgements | Other Sources of EV History Information
Your Information Is Invited | Why are there so few electric cars?

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Items of Historical Interest in the Development and Commercialization of EVs

- C -


The C5 was produced by Sir Clive Sinclair in 1985. The vehicle was a single-seater, with the rider sitting in a semi-reclined position. Power and steering controls were placed below the driver's thighs. Powered by a DC motor using lead-acid batteries, the C5 had a maximum speed of 24 km/h and a range of 32 km on a charge. The maximum speed was chosen to allow the vehicle to be licensed as a bicycle in England. The low maximum speed and uncertainty as to how to licence it in many North American jurisdictions were major factors in low sales of the vehicle in North America. There is a 1985 Sinclair C5 in the (British) National Motor Museum (Beaulieu).
Photo of C5 (B&W - 27k) with Sir Clive Sinclair on-board.
[Site no longer exists:] The Unofficial C5 Website
[link has bit-rotted:] The Ellis C5 Website (includes parts diagram and schematic)
Roy Woodward's Sinclair C-5 Enthusiasts website

C-300 - see Marathon C-300

C-360 - see Marathon C-360


Canadian Cycle and Motor Company - see E.R. Thomas Motor Company

Canadian Electric Vehicle Association

Canadian Electric Vehicle Association (CEVA) was the working name (circa 1978-1980) for the Canadian national EV association which was legally incorporated in 1980 as the Electric Vehicle Association of Canada (EVAC) / Association des Véhicules Électrique du Canada (AVEC). Several documents from CEVA are presented here.

Canadian Motors

Canadian Motors Limited took over the premises of Still Motor Company Ltd. of Toronto in 1900. Canadian Motors Limited manufactured electric vehicles to order which included the electric three wheeled Motette and an electric bus called the Tallyhoe. They lasted about 3 years.


E. Cantono of Rome (Italy) was one of the earliest electric conversion operations. For the most part they produced a traction unit that replaced the front wheels and axle of horse-drawn carriages. The Cantono units generally placed the batteries over the front axle with a motor connected to each front wheel. There were versions for private vehicles and omnibus size vehicles. Complete vehicles based on the front traction unit were also available. Production ran from 1900 to 1905, with subsequent operations under the firm F.R.A.M. (Fabbrica Botabili Aventreni Motori) in Rome (1905 to 1906) and Genoa (1906-1911). The Cantono Electric Tractor Co. of Canton OH produced the Italian designs from 1904 to 1907.


La Compagnie Francaise des Voitures Electromobiles of Paris (France) produced the Cardinet in a variety of models from 1900 to 1906. Their address was 49, Rue Cardinet, Paris.


H.H. Carpenter, - Denver, Colo, USA, 1895

Carter Coaster

CAT - see Clean Air Transportation

CCM - see E.R. Thomas Motor Company

Century (1)

Century Motor Vehicle Co., 517 East Water Street, Syracuse, NY, USA, 1900-1903

Century (2)

The Century Motor Co. (later the Century Electric Car Co.) of Detroit MI produced electric cars from 1911 to 1915. Westinghouse motors were used in these vehicles. Both solid and pneumatic tires were offered.

Photo of Century Electric (circa 1921) (B&W - 11k)

CEVA - see Canadian Electric Vehicle Association


Not Canadian General Electric, but le Compagnie Generale Electrique of Paris (France). This company produced an open-body 2-seater from 1941-1946 when there was a shortage of gasoline for civilians caused by the demands of the German war effort during World War II. Production ended when gasoline became widely available again after the end of the war.

Change-of-Pace - see Electric Vehicle Associates


Voitures E. Chapeaux built a small 2-seater electric car in 1940 and 1941 in Lyons (France). It seems not only gasoline was in short supply in occupied France, as only 4 of these cars were ever built.


Also known as the Electromobile, this car was built by W.H. Chapman, an electrician working at Belknap Motor Co., Kennebec St., Portland, ME. The Chapman weighed just 360 pounds and was built from 1899 to 1902.

Charles Town-About

Built in 1958 and 1959 at the Stinson Aircraft Tool and Engineering Corp. of San Diego CA, these electric cars were named after Dr. Charles H. Graves, the driving force behind their production. Several prototypes were built, each refined from the previous version. It appears there was no significant production of these vehicles, with only about 12 being produced in total. The vehicles used nickel-cadmium batteries and were sold mostly to utility companies.


The Chelsea Electric Coupe was built in 1922 by the Wandsworth Engineering Works of London (England). The car was a closed-body 2-seater. Batteries were mounted front and rear under a hood and trunk that looked very much like gasoline-powered vehicles of the period.


Enclosed electric coupes with seating for four were produced by the Chicago Electric Motor Co. of Chicago IL in 1915 and 1916.


The Church-Field Motor Co. of Sibley MI produced electric cars in 1912 and 1913. It utilized a 2-speed gearbox with 10 motor speeds that could be selected electrically.

Chloride Technical

Silent Karrier

Silent Rider

C.H. Waterman Industries - see U.S. Electricar

CitiCar - see Sebring-Vanguard

City & Suburban

The City & Suburban Electric Carriage Co. Ltd of 6 Denman street, Golden Square, London (England) operated from 1901 to 1905. This firm supplied a 2-seater electric to Queen Alexandra in 1901. Most of their vehicles were based on American Columbias chassis and drive-train, with the bodywork provided locally. The Niagara was one of the more popular models produced, a run-about with pneumatic tires. A gasoline-electric hybrid prototype was shown in 1903, but apparently never went into production.

CitySTROMer - see Volkswagen


Brunn's Carriage Mfg. Co., Buffalo, NY, USA, 1906-1910

Clear & Dunham

Cleveland, Ohio, USA, 1900-1905


The Cleco Electric Industries, Ltd. of Foundry Square, Leicester (England) operated from 1935 to 1940, producing small electric vans and a few saloon cars.


The Cleveland Machine Screw Co. of Cleveland OH built an electric 2-seater from 1899 to 1901. Early models were called the Cleveland, later models were called the Sperry.


E.H. Clift & Co. of London (England) produced the Clift Electric Victoria from 1899 to 1902.

Clean Air Transportation

CAT 301

Club Car

Club Car Co. of Augusta GA is best known for the manufacture of electric golf-carts. However, they did produce the Caroche, a small electric capable of 26 mph and a range of 53 miles per charge, which weighed in at under 1,000 pounds.


The Construcciones Moviles de Valencia of Valencia (Spain) operated from 1944 to 1946 producing a small 2-seater electric car. At the time the Spanish government was encouraging the conservation of gasoline for civilian use so more could be directed to military uses late in World War II and into the early post-war period when gasoline remained in short supply.


Collins Electric Vehicle Co., Scranton, PA, USA, 1901 to ?


The Colonial Electric Car Co. of Detroit MI produced both a 5-seater enclosed electric car and a 2-seater electric roadster in 1912. A top speed of 25 mph was claimed for the roadster.

Columbia (1)

Electric cars called the Columbia were produced from 1897 to 1907 by a succession of companies operating in Hartford CT. (Pope Manufacturing Co. from 1987 to 1899, Columbia Automobile Co. in 1899, Columbia & Electric Vehicle Co. in 1900, Electric Vehicle Co. from 1901 to 1909.) Some 500 of these cars were produced by the end of 1898. Gasoline cars were built by the same companies starting in 1899. A 1901 Columbia is in the holdings of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn MI.
1902 Columbia in Nova Scotia
Postcard of 1905 Columbia Electric Brougham in the holdings of the Imperial Palace Hotel, Las Vegas NV (colour - 32k)

Columbia (2)

Apparently unrelated to the Columbias of Hartford CT that had appeared earlier, these Columbias were produced by the Columbia Electric Vehicle Co. of Detroit MI from 1914 to 1918. 2, 3 and 4-seater models were produced. The vehicles were also referred to as Columbians. It was likely this company that acquired the assets of the Argo Electric Vehicle Co. in 1916.


Columbus buggy Co., Ohio, USA, 1902 to between 1911-1915.

Photo of 1904 Columbus #60 at 1982 EAA Rally - copyright 1998 Bob Wing - used here with permission (colour - 61k)

Commercial Truck Company

This firm operated in Philadelphia PA and produced large electric trucks from approximately 1910 to 1927. (It probably also produced trucks powered by sources other than electricity.) This is the firm that built the electric trucks used by Curtis Publishing until the early 1960's. Top speed for these trucks was approximately 12 mph, but they could carry up to 9 to 10 tons, well beyond the 5-ton rating for these vehicles. A 1916 Model F-5-ton flatbed truck (serial #6940) is on display at the Hays Antique Truck Museum in Woodland CA (see photos below). This particular truck was used by the Curtis Publishing company as part of their fleet for hauling paper and delivering newspapers and magazines.

Specifications for the 1916 Commercial Truck Company Model F-5 flatbed electric truck:
Type: $x$ cab forward
Serial No.: 6940
Wheelbase: 132"
Maximum Load: regularly carried 9-10 tons of paper
Electric Motors: 4 G.E. Model 36-A-102. 1 at each wheel.
Batteries: 42 cells . 382 amps.
Clutch: none
Transmission: none (forward and reverse controlled by wheel
Axles: double square beam with diagonal cross bracing
Springs: semi-elliptic front and rear
Brakes: mechanical - external contracting on rear wheels
Steering: left/center steering wheel
Wheels: wood spoke
Tires: solid rubber - 36" x 5" front, 36" x 5" dual rear
Weight: 5,700 lbs
Top speed: 10-12 mph empty, 6 mph loaded
Price (new): $4,400 (without batteries)
1916 Commercial Truck Company electric truck - front exterior view (colour - 21k). Photo copyright 1997 Bob Wing - used here with permission.
1916 Commercial Truck Company electric truck - cabin interior view (colour - 19k). Photo copyright 1997 Bob Wing - used here with permission. Note the second, smaller steering wheel below the main steering wheel used for reverse.
1916 Commerical Truck Company electric truck - drive motor (colour - 43k). Photo copyright 1997 Bob Wing - used here with permission. Four motors were used on this truck, one on each of the wheels, this being the one mounted at the left rear wheel.

Comuta - see Ford

Comuta-Car - see Commuter Vehicles Inc.

Commuter Vehicles Inc.

Produced the Comuta-Car and Comuta-Van in Florida in the early 1980's.




Essentially an extended and upgraded version of the Comuta-Car, this vehicle was designed primarily for use in running fixed commercial delivery routes for relatively light, small packages. The United States Postal Service was the target client of interest, however, although the USPS did acquire a few of these vehicles for evaluation, no major purchase was ever concluded.

Concordia University

Copper Development Association

In the 1970's, the Copper Development Association Inc. built two electric prototypes. The Copper Delivery Van which had a gross vehicle weight rating of 2,843 kg, travelled up to 153 km on a charge and had a maximum speed of 85 km/h, using 36 6-volt lead-acid batteries for energy storage. The Copper Town Car was a 2-seater car, with a gross vehicle weight rating of 1,340 kg, travelling up to 100 km/h with a range of 190 km on a charge. It used 18 6-volt lead-acid batteries for energy storage.


Corbin-Gentry built an electric motorcycle in the 1970's. One of the principals of the firm (Mike Corbin) went on as Corbin Motors to build the Sparrow beginning in 1998, and on into the 2000's.

The bike in the image below is Serial Number 1 of the Corbin-Gentry electric motorcycles. This photo shows it after having climbed Mt. Washington, NH in July 1974.
Corbin-Gentry electric bike.

Creative Automotive Research

Crompton Electricars



The Crowdus Automobile Co. of 211 East 57th street, Chicago, IL produced the Crowdus, a light electric run-about from 1901 to 1903. A range of 50 miles per charge was claimed.

Current-Fare - see Electric Vehicle Associates

Curtis Publishing Co.

This firm had large electric trucks (10 feet high, over 20 feet long) built for the delivery of their publications in approximately 1913. Most remained in service for over 50 years. One is currently in the holdings of the Franklin Institute.


C-V Electric Truck

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