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World's first electric car hits the road - again

Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 02:38

Jan. 12 - The latest in electric-powered cars are being unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show this month but the vehicle that started it all is making a debut of its own in Germany. Engineers at a private museum near the city of Speyer, have recreated a working version of the world's first electric car, originally presented 130 years ago by two Englishmen, William Ayrton and John Perry. Rob Muir reports.

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==RESENDING WITH IMPROVED AUDIO ON CHANNEL ONE== The BMWi and the Chevy Volt represent the latest in electric-powered vehicle technology, but neither of these cars might exist were it not for the 1881 invention of Englishmen William Ayrton and John Perry...now on the road again in the town of Altlussheim, Germany. Ayrton and Perry's electric-powered vehicle is recognised as the world's first roadworthy car and Horst Schultz, owner of the Autovision car museum has recreated it to celebrate 130 years of automobility. While it's a relatively simple machine, Schultz says replicating it was not easy. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HORST SCHULTZ, OWNER OF MUSEUM AUTOVISION, SAYING: "It took, overall, around about nine months to finalise this vehicle and the biggest challenge to us was to recreate this after two, only two existing technical drawings." Those drawings gave Schultz and his team an approximate idea of the technology used at the time but, with no surviving model to copy, the work was painstaking It took some guesswork, trial and error, but the finshed vehicle is an impressive example of 19th century engineering. The car is powered by a small electric motor and a bank of 54 volt batteries located beneath the seat - a converted antique baroque table. The motor drives a chain attached to the front wheels, while steering is controlled by a hand crank connected to the smaller rear wheel. Thrust is produced with gear shifts that trigger additional batteries to switch on. The original vehicle had a range of 50 kilometres but at that point, the batteries ran down...an endurance problem that plagues electric vehicles even today. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HORST SCHULTZ, OWNER OF MUSEUM AUTOVISION, SAYING: "As far as I can see, the battery is the main problem. The same problem as 130 years ago. The battery contains too less energy to give us the same distance as a petrol car. The battery is too heavy, too large compared with the petrol car." But the world's manufacturers say the technology is improving. Little could Ayrton and Perry have imagined how far their 19th century idea would travel. Rob Muir, Reuters.

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World's first electric car hits the road - again

Thursday, January 12, 2012 - 02:38