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Some EV History - Page G

Last updated 2003.01.10

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

- G -


A firm operating in Italy (Florence?) circa 1904 is reported to have built several electric cars.


Galliette, Societe I'Electrique, Ste. Anon, 17,R. Jean Goujon, Paris, France, 1904 to 1911-1915; 1920

Galt Motor Co.

The Galt was a hybrid (gasoline-electric) car, produced in Galt ON (now Cambridge, ON) in 1914. The only known remaining example resides at the Canadian Automotive Museum in Oshawa ON. The plaque with the vehicle in the museum reads:

"1914 Galt Gas Electric

Produced in Galt, Ontario

Engine: 2 cylinder, two cycle, 10 HP

Fuel: Gasoline / kerosene mixture

Generator: Westinghouse, 40 volt, 90 amp coupled directly to the gasoline engine.

Transmission: None, the electric motor is connected directly to the differential.

A fine example of Canadian ingenuity in the Automotive field, this car was one of the earliest attempts at a high efficiency automobile. The Galt's gasoline engine turns a turbine (sic) which in turn powers the car electrically. Extra power produced by the generator is stored in batteries found beneath the floor. The batteries could then be used to provide extra power at times of peak load or to operate the car with the gasoline engine turned off.

While the chassis and drive train are original, the body, installed in 1941, is its third. The car was in daily operation from that point until 1946. It is the only Galt Gas Electric in existence.

Galt Motor Company

The Galt Gas Electric was the second car to be produced in Galt Ontario and to bear its name. The Galt Motor Co. was founded in 1909 when Moffat St. Claire and Eddy Fleming bought the remaining inventory of Canadian Motors Limited. From the collection St. Claire and Fleming assembled and sold ten automobiles, using the proceeds to finance the development of their gas electric automobile. In 1914, the Galt Gas Electric was unveiled. The car with its unique means of propulsion was easy to operate, having no transmission a single lever provided five speeds forward and three in reverse. The car was highly efficient and was reportedly capable of travelling over 70 miles on a single gallon of gasoline.

The car could also travel a distance of fifteen to twenty miles on a single battery charge, virtually eliminating the risk of being stranded due to a lack of gasoline.

Despite the ingenuity of its designers, the Galt Gas Electric did not prove to be a success. Marketing the car was difficult because of the failure of the first Galt automobile. The car's top speed of 30 miles per hour was another drawback as consumers increasingly showed their preference for more powerful gasoline operated cars." (end of material on plaque at Canadian Automotive Museum)

The small gasoline engine actually turned a large generator (not a turbine) to produce electricity supplied to the motor/batteries. When the generator produced more power than the motor needed, the excess would charge the batteries. When the motor needed more power than the generator could supply, the shortfall was met by discharging the batteries. This configuration is known as a series hybrid. Actually, a top speed of 30 miles per hour was probably plenty anywhere in North America in 1914; few roads would permit safe travel at that speed for any distance at that time.

Front view of Galt (36k - colour). Note the steering wheel is on the right side.
Left front corner view of Galt (34k - colour).
Engine compartment view of Galt from left side (72K - colour). You can make out the spark plugs of the two cylinder engine at the near the top left of the image. The (rather large) generator sits below the small engine. The actual drive motor is not visible; it is probably close to the differential at the rear axle. Also visible are the belts to the left of the engine to drive the generator and cooling fan. To the left of the cooling fan is the radiator. The heavy cabling at the right presumably carried current from the generator to the batteries and drive motor (not visible).
Early view of Galt chassis (52k - B&W). In this image, two of four batteries are clearly visible on the driver's (right) side of the vehicle. The small fuel tank is evident at the top of the engine compartment, so gravity feed was probable. The single front headlight was coupled to the steering gear, so it turned with the front wheels - an idea which did not resurface until the 1948 Tucker. The wire-spoke wheels and narrow front bumper may indicate an appreciation of the need to keep weight down to improve efficiency.

Garcin, Garcin-Renault - see B.G.S.

Garrard & Blumfield

Raglan Cycle Co., Coventry, Great Britain, 1894.


The Elektromobilfabrik Gebhardt & Harborn of Berlin - Schöneberg (Germany) produced a 3-wheeler electric from 1910 to 1917, when the factory was taken over by another firm (Elitewerk AG), which continued to produce the vehicle until 1923. See also Elite.

General Electric (1)

General Electric Co. of Schenectady NY produced a couple of experimental electric vehicles circa 1900. One was a pure electric car, the other a hybrid with electric drive and a 4-cylinder gasoline engine. In the 1970's G.E. produced another prototype called the Delta which weighed in at 1,045 kg, claimed a range of 160 km per charge and a maximum speed of 88 km/h. G.E. also produced the Elec-Trak line of electric lawn and garden tractors in the 1970's. G.E. produced the electric motors used in many electric cars from the late 1800's to the present day.

General Electric (2)

General Electric Co., West Lynn, Mass; Cincinnati, Ohio, 1898 to 1916-1920

General Electric Automobile Co.

This company operated in Philadelphia PA in 1898 and 1899. It does not appear to have been connected with the General Electric Co. of Schenectady NY, but may have had some association with a maker of electric trams. This company produced a light electric runabout.

General Engines - see also Commuter Vehicles Inc.

In addition to producing the Comuta-Car and Comuta-Van under the Commuter Vehicles Inc. banner, this company also produced a line of electric bicycles and tricycles under the PedalPower name. They also marketed the Freeway 3-wheeler electric car for a period of time.
PedalPower brochure picture (colour - 209k)

General Motors

Best known today for its EV-1 and electric S-10 pickup trucks, GM has been toying with EVs for decades. A number of prototypes prior to the Impact (predecessor to the EV-1) have been dangled in front of the media and EV enthusiasts over the years, including the Electrovair, Electrovair II (with silver-zinc batteries), Model 512 (with nickel-zinc batteries), Stir-Lec 1 hybrid, the WhisperYet 25-passenger hybrid bus, and the Electrovette.

BEV-1 Van

A conversion of the full-size GMC commercial van. 20 of these vans were used by AT&T in a fleet demonstration at Culver City CA, and more vehicles were used at other sites during the U.S. DOE-sponsored project in the late 1970's and early 1980's. The vehicles were returned to GM at the end of the project.


Electrovair II



The Electrovette was a Chevette converted to electric propulsion. It used nickel-zinc batteries to improve the range relative to lead-acid. At least 12 such development prototypes were built in the early 1980's.



The Impact was the prototype predecessor to the EV-1, designed primarily by AeroVironment. Interestingly, the performance of the Impact seemed to diminish as it evolved into the EV-1. Consider the GM-published specifications for the Impact:
Acceleration - 0-60 mph in 8 seconds
Maximum speed (governed) - 70 mph; (modified for speed tests) - 183 mph
Range - 120 miles at 55 mph steady speed
These figures were achieved using 32 Delco-Remy 10-volt sealed lead-acid batteries rated at 42.5 Ahr, weighing a total of 870 pounds. 2 AC motors were used, one to each front wheel, each rated at 57-hp at 6,600 rpm, with voltage ratings of 320 volts. These figures were established and published in 1989. Compare those figures to the specifications of the EV-1 delivered 6 years later, still a 2-seater, highly aerodynamic car.

Stir-Lec 1

1969 Advertisement about the Stir-Lec 1 (B&W - 120k)

S-10 Electric Pickup


Image of 1912 General Motors Electric Taxicab (colour - 11k)

WhisperYet Hybrid Bus


Gibson Electric Vehicle Co.

Based in Toronto, ON in the early 1900's. Probably a distributor for Babcock electric cars.




Photo of the Gizmo (colour - large)


The GoLIAth was a delivery van prototype produced by the Lead Industries Association (LIA) in the 1970's.


Gould, Inc. of Rolling Meadows IL is primarily a manufacturer of batteries. However, they have worked with automakers including American Motors Corporation (AMC) and Chrysler Corporation on the conversion of small numbers of vehicles, notably Jeeps for use by the United States Postal Service in the 1970's. Some 350 of these vehicles were in service with the United States Postal Service by 1976, and 5 were purchased by the Canadian Post Office in in 1975 and 1976. The USPS reported unsatisfactory performance in the original vehicles, but after upgrading the vehicles with Eagle-Picher batteries and other components, the performance was considered satisfactory, and the vehicles remained in service for a number of years. The 5 operated by the Canadian Post Office were operated individually at 5 different sites, from Vancouver BC on the Pacific coast to Dartmouth NS on the Atlantic coast, and at Kitchener ON, Ottawa ON and Montreal PQ in between. After a short testing period the test program was revised, and the vehicles were relocated to Ottawa (2) and Vancouver (3), but it was apparently already too late to overcome the initial perceptions, and the vehicles were deemed unsuitable. Canada Post probably spent more on shipping the vehicles to the sites than they did on training operators and mechanics on the use and upkeep of the vehicles. Three of the five vehicles were subsequently auctioned off to individuals, one ending up in Belleville ON and 2 in Wellington, ON. The other two ended up at the Welland Canal with another Canadian government agency.


Built in 1901 by the Societé des Accumalateurs Compound of Levallois-Perret (France), this was a small electric 3-wheeler powered by a 3-horsepower Gramme electric motor driving the single front wheel via a belt.


The Griffon was a GM Bedford van converted to electric power by Lucas-Chloride in England. These vans used the Chloride tubular-cell lead-acid battery for energy storage. More than 100 of these vehicles saw extended service in Britain, and at least 30 were used in North America. One is in operation at Ottawa Hydro (as of 1998).

One 1985 Griffon was imported from England in 1986 by the Florida Department of power as a research vehicle. The interior is customized with four captians chairs and an rear bench and seats 6 adults in comfort. Additional features include two-tone paint, tinted windows, power brakes, AM/FM stereo, air conditioning, diesel fuel heater. Features include. Curb weight of 5,500 lbs, battery weight of 2,000 lbs, payload capacity of 2,200 lbs, and a gross vehicle weight of 7,500 lbs. There are thirty-six six-volt deep cycle lead acid batteries for a total of 216 volts. Drive motor is mounted at the rear of the vehicle and has a maximum output of 50 horsepower, at 40 KW peak power, 216 volts. The motor weighs 302 lbs and has a maximum rated speed of 6,000 RPM. The Traction Contoller is made by Lucas Chloride EV Systems and provides for regenerative braking to extend range. Performance Specifications include a daily range of 50-65 miles per charge, maximum speed of 55 MPH, energy usage of 1 mile per 1 kilowatt hour of electricity. Lucas Chloride Spiegel Single Phase 220 Volt Charger with a maximum DC output current of 30 amps. Onboard chargers are available. Routine maintenance for the electric drive system consists of topping the battery water levels approximately every three weeks with normal vehicle use utilizing a portable autofil unit.
Picture of a Griffon van (colour-43k)


The Grinnell Electric Car Co. of Detroit MI built electric cars from 1910 to 1915. It was the successor to the Phipps-Grinnell. The 2-door, 5-seater boasted an enclosed body and claimed a range of up to 90 miles per charge.

Grumman Corporation


Used by the United States Postal Service beginning in 1982, these postal delivery vans had a single-seat (for the driver) and had a curb weight of 2,700 pounds. They had a rated payload of 500 pounds within a 69 cubic foot cargo space. The van was 71 inches high, 144 inches long and had a wheelbase of 99 inches. The body was made primarily of aluminum. Using 14 6-volt lead-acid batteries, the vehicle had a maximum speed of 52 mph and a range of 40 miles on a charge (at 30 mph). Designed for start-and-stop operation, it was capable of 350 start/run/stop cycles (typical of a postal delivery operation) on a charge. Early versions of this vehicle were known as the Kurbwatt.

Gulf & Western

Gulf & Western caused a great stir in 1980 when they announced their intention to produce zinc-chlorine batteries. The batteries were claimed to have remarkable energy storage capabilities, but skeptics worried about the safety issues surrounding the carrying of significant amounts of chlorine in vehicles if they were involved in a collision. A correspondent, who worked on the program, says that there were prototype vehicles produced using the Zinc Chloride battery system, specifically, three lightweight aluminum body panel cladded prototypes that ultimately achieved 100 miles on a single charge and one van type vehicle was also produced.


Based in Brazil, Jouo Gurgel converted VW Kombi vans to run on electricity beginning in 1982. Known as the Gurge Itaipu E-400, at least 100 of these vehicles were produced.

Gyory, Louis

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