A 1909 Baker Electric Shows Donut Media That a 100-Year-Old EV Still Holds Up
Even though the inventions of Rudolf Diesel and Henry Ford are seen as some of the earliest and most crucial developments in the world of automobiles — much to the chagrin of Cugnot fans everywhere — fully-electric cars are often overlooked as the pioneers of self-propelled technology they are. The gearheads from Donut Media are here to change that with their latest well-laid out video about what it’s like to drive a 100 year-old EV. Spoiler alert: even after a full century, and then some, the earliest electric cars are still as smooth as butter.
American Car Buyers Are Warming Up to EVs
In case you missed it:
What it’s Like to Drive a 100 Year-Old Electric Car
The video takes a closer look at a 1909 Baker Electric, silently pulled from the garage of everyone’s favorite automotive enthusiast, Jay Leno. Officially, the Baker Electric was classified as a horseless carriage, which tracks given that its designer, Walter C. Baker, got started in the nascent automobile industry by making axles for horse-drawn carriages.
And thanks to a newfangled technology known as electricity, which was quickly becoming popular in the early twentieth century, Baker was able to give horses a break by designing and making a chic carriage that rolled on its own, impulsed forward by charged particles.
It was a very early design — one of the first — so it looks rudimentary or prosaic to our modern eyes, especially next to an EV like a Lucid Air or Tesla Roadster, but the Baker Electric was the bleeding edge of fully-electric cars 114 years ago. In fact, you could draw analogies between it and today’s EVs and, maybe, even autonomous vehicles: the Baker EV lacked a steering wheel and was a seating pod on wheels. Kind of like the modern AVs that Zoox and others are making to one day ferry passengers in room-like enclosures powered by battery packs.
The Baker Electric was steered with a rudder, and the throttle was a lever rather than a pedal, but underneath those differences it’s not hard to see the line that connects the Baker EV with modern-day Tesla, Lucid and BYD EVs. They even had the same limitations, such as crappy wait times at charging stations, which actually existed back then in cities like New York.
Sure, the Baker EV could take up to 48 hours to charge, as Jay Leno explains, instead of the three or four hours modern electric cars take, but it had a range of up to 80 miles even back then! Take that range anxiety. The point being that EVs have always been the bane of impatient and range-anxious drivers. In any case, check out the whole video because it’s a fun crash course on the history of EVs, which goes way further back than most people realize.