Before internal combustion engine cars gained the lion’s share of the automotive market, electric cars were relatively commonplace, and they were ultimately a technology that would stay on the scene for decades to come. Detroit Electric, which grew out of the Anderson Carriage Company in 1907, quickly developed i...nto a successful enterprise, and became perhaps the most eminent American electric car brand.
The Detroit Electric was an ideal car for city driving only, as its top speed was an unimpressive 20 mph. However, it had a clear advantage over early combustion engine autos, as it required no hand cranking to start the car. At its heyday, the ranks of Detroit Electric owners included many notable persons, including Thomas Edison, Mamie Eisenhower, and John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
In 1939, however, Detroit Electric finally closed its doors, still reeling from aftershocks of the Great Depression. Seemingly, the hopes of a future dominated by the electric car died along with Detroit Electric. Only recently has there begun to be a serious prospect of an electric car resurgence, heralded by such models as the Chevy Volt, making Detroit Electric cars significant pieces of automotive history and Americana, in addition to being extremely rare collectibles. Currently, many Detroit Electrics that have weathered the ages reside in museums, although they do end up in private collections as well.
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