From the Benchmark Q1 2017 Review. For full access, subscribe today.
New York, 1897.
The first taxi cabs of New York City were put into service – pure electric vehicles that were manufactured by Pope Manufacturing Company of Boston, Massachusetts.
By the end of the year, 12 all electric versions of the classic horse drawn carriage, known as the electric Hanson Cab, were in operation.
New York was bustling with rapid economic growth and a surge in population, developing its reputation as the first port of call for the American Dream.
The Gilded Age was in full swing.
In two years, Pope’s business had grown to over 500 vehicles, each powered by 44 lead acid batteries with an average range of 30 miles.
They operated under a leasing system and could not be purchased outright. This allowed the company to control their maintenance that required new skills, and tackle charging infrastructure problems that we are so familiar with today.
Instead of installing many charging stations, drivers could pull into a designated workshop and the staff would quickly change out the spent battery for a fully charged one.
Pope Manufacturing became so successful that it was acquired by the Electric Vehicle Company (EVC) in 1899 which grew the business to over 1,000 vehicles in 8 years.
But this future was not to be.
A fire in 1907 destroyed a third of the fleet setting EVC on the road to bankruptcy and, arguably, changing the course of history.
It saw the end of the very successful all electric New York taxis and start of the wildly expensive horse drawn carriage replacement.
It is said that the founder of the now famed yellow cab service, the New York Taxi Company, started the business after being furious at a $5 charge (or $125 in today’s money) for a journey lasting less than a mile.
Money was flowing, but people were not stupid and in two years 65 internal combustion engine vehicles were imported from France and were in operation.
By the 1920s, General Motors and Ford began to sell mass produced gasoline powered cars, and the rest was history.
Therefore, Disposal and recycling of these EVC’s lead acid batteries never became a real issue until the larger format 12V batteries found their way back into cars in the mid-1960s as a source to start the engine, meaning the user did not have to manually crank the vehicle.
Today, the 12V lead acid automotive battery is the most(…)