Meet the Roberts electric car. Built in 1896, it gets a solid 40 miles to the charge — exactly the mileage Chevrolet advertises for the Volt — the much-touted $31,645 electric car General Motors CEO Dan Akerson called “not a step forward, but a leap forward.”
The executives at Chevrolet can rest easy for now. Since the Roberts was constructed in an age before Henry Ford’s mass production, the 115-year-old electric car is one of a kind.
And the engineers at Chevrolet can also rest easy. They have regained precious scientific ground that has lain dormant since:
Wilhelm Röntgen discovered x-rays
Utah was admitted to the Union as the 45th state
Birth of comedian George Burnes
The Tootsie Roll was introduced
The USMC invaded Nicaragua
The Yukon Gold Rush
The first modern Olympic Games opened in Athens
The completion of the American Transcontinental Railroad
The last Russian Czar, Nicholas II, was crowned
The first American automobile accident (a NYC bicyclist was struck)
The first stolen automobile, a Peugeot - in Paris, France
The first movie theater opens in America
Patent for the dial telephone was issued
Chop Suey was invented
Birth of F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is created
National Geographic showed its first naked breast (a Zulu woman)
Washington Ferris, the inventor of the FerrisWheel, died
The first CPA's were certified
The first intercollegiate basketball game (Yale v. Wesleyan)
Birth of USAF Gen. James H. Doolitle (1942 raid on Tokyo)
The song "Stars and Stripes forever" was written by John Philip Sousa
Forgive me gentle Reader, but I digress.
But don’t let the car’s 115 years let you think it isn’t tough: It’s present-day owner, who prefers not to be named, told The Daily Caller it still runs like a charm, and has even completed the roughly 60-mile London to Brighton.So hold your head high Mr. "I Can Engineer A Car That Meets The Performance Standards Created In A Basement 115 Years Ago" Man.
But while the Roberts electric car clearly lacked GPS, power steering and, yes, air bags, the distance it could achieve on a charge, when compared with its modern equivalent, provides a telling example of the slow pace of the electric car.
Driven by a tiller instead of a wheel, the Roberts car was built seven years before the Wright brothers’ first flight, 12 years before the Ford Model T, 16 years before Chevrolet was founded and 114 years before the first Chevy Volt was delivered to a customer.
As the New York Times reported September 5, “For General Motors and the Obama administration, the new Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid represents the automotive future, the culmination of decades of high-tech research financed partly with federal dollars.”
This Bud's for you.