Article possibly by Henry Morgan
When Thomas A. Edison recently announced he had perfected his storage battery for electric vehicles, a chorus arose:
“The electric touring car at last!” “New York to Philadelphia and back with one charge!”
Authentic interviews, however, have modified the first excitement. One hundred miles, so Mr. Edison states, is the limit labor has resulted in reducing the weight of the battery about forty pounds per horse-power. This, however, is of greatest benefit to auto-trucks, in the manufacture of which Mr. Edison is interested.
The pleasure-car problem is more difficult. Speed, comfort and ability to make long, continuous journeys are qualities for which every one looks when purchasing a motor - car. And it is true that electric power furnishes the first two in a very satisfactory manner. Electric cars are free from noise, vibration and odor; they are easily controlled; and their machinery is very simple. The third quality is what they lack at present.
In cars which must carry their own means of equipment is the battery of secondary cells. These are either very heavy or have low capacity, and they take a long time to charge. In addition, this charging cannot be done anywhere, as is the case with gasolene, but only at a comparatively few places. Cooper Hewitt, of New York, has made a great step with his mercury rectifier, which takes the place of the old transmitter and makes it possible to convert the alternating currents used in small towns, so as to make them available for charging batteries.
Transmitting the power from a generating station by means of an overhead trolley or some other similar medium works very well for public conveyances always using the same route, but would be out of the question for a private car. Apparently, then, the best method for long-distance traveling would be to have the car carry its own generating station. There are cars which do this, by a dynamo run by a gasolene engine, connected with a battery of accumulators. There would thus be three means of driving the motor supplied with power by the dynamo run by the engine, or supplied by the accumulators, or the engine driving the car direct. In this case, however, the machinery would be very complex and heavy, and hardly satisfactory. [(Note) like the hybrid car of the 2000’s]
It has been suggested that with the increased use of electricity for lighting purposes, it would be very easy for central stations to charge batteries during slack hours. If this were brought about, and a method were devised by which the car could carry sufficient power in small compass [area] to drive it over a long distance, the electric car would make a touring machine satisfactory in every way.
Source: October 1905 article in The Country Calendar