Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation Set Up To Preserve Electric-Car History

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1914 Detroit Electric car, owned by GE scientist Charles Steinmetz, Schenectady, NY, June 2011

1914 Detroit Electric car, owned by GE scientist Charles Steinmetz, Schenectady, NY, June 2011

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With more than 100,000 electric cars on U.S. roads--and thousands more added each month--advocates and historians are turning their attention to the last time cars with plugs rolled out of U.S. factories, almost 100 years ago.

But as far as we know, there's no single museum or entity in the U.S. whose sole mission is to present the history of plug-in electric cars.

That may be about to change, if a post in electric-vehicle forum Electrifying Times by collector and historian Roderick Wilde is any indication.

In late May, Wilde wrote:

In January I founded a nonprofit corporation, titled the Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation, with the sole purpose of building the world's first International Electric Vehicle Museum. It will most likely to be located here in the Northwest.

Over a period of eight months, I gathered together a group of very talented individuals for the Board of Directors and we will soon have our [Federal] 501(c)3 [certification].

We are already committed to doing a joint exhibition with the National Hot Rod Association later this year, to be held at the NHRA Motorsports Museum in Pomona, California.

I will let you all know once our web site is up and our Facebook page as well.

As of yet, the Foundation does not have its website up or its Facebook page live.

Nor is an event listed on the NHRA Museum's calendar--but we'll keep you posted.

We wish Wilde well in his venture, and hope that the history of U.S. and global electric-car production--both current and past--will become better known by car buyers at large as more plug-in vehicles travel our roads.

Cars like the Detroit Electric were a significant part of the nation's fleet in the early 1900s, and there were many experimental battery-electric and series hybrid electric cars built before 1920 or so.

What vehicles would you expect to see in the collection of an electric-car museum?

Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.


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Comments (11)
  1. In addition to the vehicles and any surviving and available prototypes it would be great to preserve the history of the involved people and companies such as plans, technical documentation, correspondence, publications. Would love to see what role the government played throughout and what transpired it other countries before and after the devastating wars, such as electrifying the public transport.

  2. The GM EV-1 is definitely museum material considering its unfortunate history that left very few survivors.

    Maybe the museum should ask Honda for a specimen of its Fit EV seeing how all that car seems to have to look forward to once the leases expire is the shredder.

    Another car that belongs in the tough history department of this museum would be the Fisker Karma.

  3. I think Ford Range electric and Toyota first gen eRav4 belong there too...

  4. Here in Washington DC, we recently had a 99th anniversary electric sociability run, with the 100th likely to follow summer 2014. EV activity of 100 years ago was uncannily similar to what's happening today. Folks were forming clubs, mapping charging stations, and enjoying the convenience of driving their ev's every day around town. History is echoing itself, but this time in a much changed geo-political and energy environment.

    Check out www.pluginrally.org for details.

  5. We just completed the BC2BC All Electric Vehicle Rally, 1500 miles from Canada to Mexico, and many of our checkpoints were museums with electric car connections:

    1) LeMay Musuem in Tacoma, Washington has a 1913 Detroit Electric, in addition to the first GM EV-1, serial number 1.

    2) Spark Museum in Bellingham, Washington has a live demonstration of a Tesla Coil.

    3) American Museum of Radio and Electricity will be displaying a 1914 Detroit Electric later this month of July 2013

    4) Vancouver, British Columbia has a working ORIGINAL 1912 Detroit Electric in working condition, put on display through the Vancouver Elelctric Vehicle Association.

    The area is well represented !!!

  6. http://boyertownmuseum.org

    I know there's at least one early 20th century EV there. It's a Commercial electric Truck, used to haul paper between curtis Publishing buildings in Philly for 6 or 7 decades before retiring to Boyertown.....

  7. Jay Leno has highlighted the Baker Electric vehicle which should be included.

  8. Since he used the term "international," I'd like to see at least one of the milk floats that have worked for decades in England. Add to that the Commuta Car and Commuta Van from the 1970's to early 1980's and perhaps the EV's that were built for the first "Total Recall" movie and the second "The Italian Job" movie.

  9. Well I guess the cat is now out of the bag. All this without even our first press release! Much has happened since my post to a local EV group in the Seattle area. There has been a great deal of interest in the joint exhibition with the NHRA. Due to this and other logistical concerns the show will take place in 2014. Our web site should be operational in a week to ten days. You will be able to check on progress there: www.hevf.org Our Facebook page should also be available soon. There have been some great ideas put forth in the comments here and we are listening.

    Roderick Wilde, Executive Director
    Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation

  10. On another note, I personally own a Detroit Electric similar to the one pictured at the top. I am setting it up to be a vehicle for local errands. I also have an extensive collection of U.S manufactured electric micro cars from the late 1940’s to the mid 1960’s. One from my collection is currently on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles in a show titled “Fins, Form Without Function”.

    Roderick Wilde, Executive Director
    Historic Electric Vehicle Foundation

  11. Excellent! There should also be a display in the Museum with a title such as "Who Killed the Electric Car: First time around" in which we are provided information about how the Fossil Fuel Industrial Complex stopped Henry Ford from manufacturing his electric vehicles, and related developments over the last 100+ years.

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