Employees at the Autovision Museum in Germany weren’t content just staring at the historic plans for the world’s first electric vehicle, they wanted to actually ride in it! So they recreated the fabled three-wheeled automobile, in detail, from the ground up and took it for a spin. The ET (electric tricycle) was created in 1880, five years before Karl Benz is credited for inventing the modern automobile. If the inventors of the Starley Tricycle, William Ayrton and John Perry, had only shouted about their vehicle from the rooftops, we might not be in gas-guzzling the mess we’re in now! Video of the tricycle in action after the jump.
The Autovision museum spent a year building a working model of the tricycle, whose engine tops out at about eight miles an hour and can hold a charge that will zip you around for 25 miles before it needs to be juiced up again. This ride wasn’t the first vehicle to be powered by electricity in the world but it could be argued that it is the first that resembles a modern car — read: it is useful.
We can imagine the well-dressed urbanites of the Victorian era zipping past horse-drawn carriages in their electric tricycles, waving to acquaintances who stood in awe on sidewalks. According to the museum staff, the vehicle is surprisingly comfortable, very quiet and makes for a nice ride. If only we had a time machine, we could go back and use the Starley Tricycle to change the course of history.