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Some EV History - Page O

Last updated 2006.04.17

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

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Oehler Aarau

Electro Taxi


The Ohio Electric Car Co. of Toledo OH produced electric cars from 1910 to 1918. Most were of closed body styles and used tiller steering.
Period advertisement (1914) (B&W - 124k)


While far better known for gasoline powered cars that are still made the firm started by Ransom Eli Olds, Mr. Olds produced a steam car in 1891 and only began producing gasoline powered cars in 1896. Before the end of the 19th century, he also produced a small number of electric cars, but when mass production of Oldsmobiles began in 1901, they were gasoline-powered only.


The Deutsche Elektromobil und Motorenwerke AG or Wasseralfingen (Germany) produced electric cars in 1922. These vehicles included single-seater and tandem 2-seater configurations.


Carl Oppermann of London (England) produced electric cars under his own name from 1898 to 1902, and by the Carl Oppermann Electric Carriage Co. Ltd from 1902 to 1907. The company made its own batteries to power a variety of vehicle types. Most vehicles had open body styles, and produced a number of electric taxicabs, particularly in the last few years of operation. An Oppermann electric was sold to the King of Siam in 1905.

Otis Elevator Co.

Yes, the elevator people - and why not? Elevators are electric vehicles of a sort, and by that standard Otis would be one of the biggest EV makers ever. However, their adventures in the on-road electric vehicle market come to an end in 1976, when they sold the rights to their designs to EVA-Chloride. Prior to 1976, Otis had owned Baker Electric and Electrobus Inc. They developed the Otis Electric Delivery Vehicle which boasted a range of 40 miles on a charge and a top speed of 43 mph using 16 6-volt lead-acid batteries. Otis also developed the Electrobus, a passenger bus capable of 60 km/h and a range of 64 km per charge and the Utility Van P-500 which had a range of 55 to 64 km and a top speed of 64 km/h. An Otis van, model T500, was purchased by the City of Calgary Electric System (Calgary AB) in 1974. Hydro-Quebec acquired an Otis P500 minivan in 1974.

Otis S-71

Here's an interesting historical tidbit. Otis also manufactured an off-road EV, the Otis S-71 golf cart. With the kind permission of the author, we are pleased to present here Technical Information about the Otis S-71, by Jim Kaness (PDF document).

Updated version (2017) of the Otis S-71 Technical Information document by Jim Kaness.

Otis also produced a line of industrial EVs in the early 1970s under the Westcoaster brand. Here are a couple of brochures (scanned from B&W photocopies), also courtesy of Jim Kaness.
Westcoater Full Line brochure circa 1970
Otis 1973 Full Line Brochure


The Owen Magnetic was produced from 1914 to 1922. The original firm was absorbed into the Baker Electric company in 1915. The vehicles were series hybrids using a gasoline engine to run a generator to supply electrical power to motors mounted in each of the two rear wheels. One of these vehicles was owned by Enrico Caruso. The company's slogan was, " Banishing the Commonplace. "

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