Tesla did not create the first electric vehicle, as we all know. EVs have existed since the era of the horseless carriages. For better or even worse, the gas engine quickly took over, but big startups and automakers have experimented with electric vehicles throughout the years, and a few models have gone into production. Many people may be astonished to find that, previous to the coming of Tesla, the electric vehicle that has enjoyed massive sales in United States history was built by a small Florida-based company, not by one of the Big Three. The oil issue of the 1970s resulted to a brief surge in the interest in electric vehicles. Bob Beaumont, a car salesman, invented the CitiCar and founded the Sebring-Vanguard firm to manufacture it.
The CitiCar was built in the company’s Sebring, Florida factory between 1974 and 1977. It epitomized the negative stereotype of electric cars which many people still hold. It was a compact two-seater with a plastic body that powered on eight 6-volt lead-acid batteries and was centered on the Club Car golf cart. It could reach 60 mph and had a range of about 40 miles. There were 4,444 CitiCars and similar models made, making it the most manufactured American electric vehicle until Tesla Roadster surpassed it in 2011. In an article for The Next Web, Ioanna Lykiardopoulou reviews the history of CitiCar and compiles a collection of never-before-seen images and video recordings. The CitiCar was available in a variety of models throughout its brief existence. The Classic Car History goes into great depth on the numerous variants, such as how to identify them apart (in case you see an old CitiCar at the garage near you).
Six 36-volt batteries, as well as a 1.9 kWh (2.5 hp) motor, were standard on the early SV/36. The top speed was roughly 28 miles per hour, and the range was about 35 miles. The CitiCar received an upgrade shortly after its release, the SV/48, which featured eight batteries as well as a 2.6 kWh (3.5 hp) motor. The maximum speed was 38 miles per hour, and the range was about 40 miles. Sebring-Vanguard began producing a new version called the Transitional or even 1976 1/2 CitiCar in 1976, which included a significantly more powerful 4.5 kWh (6 hp) motor. Most current EVs, by contrast, operates on a 400-volt system (Porsche Taycan, and various upcoming models, operate on 800 volts). The newest Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus has 306 horsepower and a range of 353 miles.
The CitiCar was marketed for roughly $3,000, which was less than the average gas-propelled car at the period, and it was a hit for a few years. Demand declined after the energy crisis ended and gas prices fell, and the company filed for bankruptcy in 1977. The majority of the company’s assets were ultimately purchased by Commuter Vehicles, which rebuilt the vehicle and rebranded it to the ComutaCar. This was made between 1979 and 1982.