2018 – Books I’ve read – 001, 002

A History Of Electric Cars by Nigel Burton

This is actually the second book I read this year.

I bought it after reading another (very thin) book about the history of early steam road vehicles. The book looked at the gradual development, and evolution, of high pressure steam power on the roads from the huge low pressure stationary engines used for pumping mine waters.

It is a fascinating story of inventors and engineers determining how best to design a chassis and wheel plan, how to steer, which wheels to power, how many people are needed to operate it, where passengers or goods would be placed, and how to compete with animal transport on the appalling roads of the time.

Steam Road Vehicles – Science Museum (Reprint)

Having read this book, and added this information to my existing knowledge of motor vehicle history I wanted to know more about the other forms of motor transport, hence buying a copy of A History Of Electric Cars.

A history of electric cars by Nigel Burton

This book was an easy read too. It took each stage of the development of motor transport where, it related to electric propulsion, and discussed the technology of the day, the competitions, the pros and cons relative to the motorist of the time.

Many of the facts were interesting when compared to electric vehicles of today. Weights, range, recharging times, all very similar over a 100 year span. The only notable difference, aside from body style and modern safety, was speed. Electric cars over the last ten years have been able to go four or five times faster then their early counter parts.

There there was the competing technologies, steam, petrol, diesel, and the funny little twists and turns of politics, and business interests that stifled steam and electric propulsion at each point a major breakthrough¬† was hoped for. Clearly many of the ‘breakthroughs’ were never just over the horizon anyway but still…

In the latter chapters of the book, where more contemporary cars were discussed, it reminded me of how many attempts to introduce electric cars, by a few manufacturers, are forgotten already.  The book closes at 2012, and Tesla is only a small Silicon Valley start up, working with Lotus, and giving General Motors something to think about.

I still want an electric vehicle for work, and this book has only stoked that desire further, but there still isn’t a vehicle that suits my needs, or pocket.

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