The very first invention of the electric vehicle is credited to Anyos Jeklik, who in 1828 built a small-scale car powered by an electric motor of his own design. In 1859, French physicist Gaston Plante invented the rechargeable lead-acid storage battery.
For the next 30 years the electric car and rechargeable battery were both improved upon tremendously. In the early 1890's the electric automobile went mainstream and several models were available for purchase.
By 1900, the electric car phenomenon was peaking and 38% of vehicles on the road in the U.S. were electric (40% were powered by steam and 22% used gas). Today less than 1% of households currently have an electric vehicle.
In 1908 Henry Ford introduced the gas-powered Model T, and in 1912, Charles Kettering invents the first practical electric automobile starter. These two inventions started the demise of the electric car. Before the electric car starter, gas powered cars had to be started by a hand crank, which made electric automobiles more appealing because they were easier to start and operate.
By 1920, electric cars ceased to be a viable commercial product. America's road system was improved and more cities were connected; unfortunately electric cars couldn't travel long distances, they lacked horsepower and gasoline which was more widely available than it was before.
It's not for another 40 years that the need for electric cars becomes a hot topic again. A growing concern over air pollution, oil prices, and gas supply, spur congress to introduce the earliest bills recommending use of electric vehicles.
With all the work we were doing on the Davis Divan, we were thrilled to find out they were so happy with how the process was going that they wanted us to restore their charger as well.
Fortunately The Peterson Museum just wants a cosmetic restoration done to it, but with the charger being so old and rare we needed to be incredibly careful with it because of its age and rarity.
We had to take this project slow and do a lot of research to make sure we did everything properly so we could put it back together and showcase it like it was in 1910.
We hope that the next time you visit the Petersen Automotive Museum that you look for our restorations! Very honored to have completed two projects of American history!