In the second ever issue of Autocar, published 6 November 1895, we published a report from the Cyclist magazine on an electric car that had been built in the summer of 1894.
Produced by the Garrard & Blumfield bicycle engineering company of Coventry, it was a four-seat phaeton with an innovative drive system.
“We understand that Messrs. Garrard and Blumfield hold a master patent for the known elements of (I) pneumatic tyres, (2) balance gear, (3) steel tubing, (4) ball bearings; and (5) electric power,” we began.
“The mechanism of the carriage and its framework are built throughout of weldless steel tube, the general design of the frame being not largely dissimilar from that adopted in the Rudge quadricycle of a year two back.
All four of the phaeton’s wheels were 24in in diameter and shod in 4in pneumatic tyres. As with all other working parts of the vehicle, they ran upon ball bearings.
“The front two wheels are steered by means of a long ball socket head, actuated by a wheel and tangent screw,” we explained.
The electric power unit for the Garrard & Blumfield was “contained in a series of twenty-four accumulator (rechargeable) cells”. These were likely lead acid, although we could not find any writing confirming this.
“The accumulators (batteries) weigh some 500lbs,” we continued, “and the completed vehicle comes out at about 1000lbs, or, roughly speaking, about half a ton, as against two and a half tons the weight of the lightest electric road carriage hitherto placed upon the road.”
The phaeton’s “cells were connected with a motor carried upon the (car’s) framework beneath; the spindle which the motor works, being arranged with a feather, so that it can be slid to and fro several inches by means of a lever, placed in contiguity to the rider’s left hand.”