This morning was a minor landmark in Autocar’s 116-year history. Nissan delivered our long-term test Leaf, probably the first, serious, mass-produced, battery-powered car in the history of the automotive industry.
It’s taken quite a while (we briefly ran a Think EV a decade ago, but that was more of a quadricycle than a real car) for a viable battery-powered car to arrive since the concept was first discussed on the pages of Autocar. Over 114 years, to be exact.
When Autocar was founded in 1895, the self-propelled carriage industry was in its infancy and the ideal mode of motive power was still in flux. Petrol, steam and electricity all had their advocates and there was no real sense of which power source might win out, or whether all three would peacefully co-exist.
Some things, however, never change. By 1989, electrically-powered Taxis has been introduced in New York and the Royal Mail were trying out electric mail vans (note the insignia on the van in the Autocar photo - it’s incredible to think that Queen Victoria was still on the throne when such advanced technology was being trailed).