Ninety seven years later and you’d be hard pressed to find a hundred electric cars in all of NYC.

Incidentally the $45 a month price would be equivalent to $1022 a month in 2012 dollars. While that sounds like a lot of money I’m sure you could find valet lots around central park that actually cost that much today.


ELECTRIC car owners and dealers in the Central Park district of New-York City have banded together and built a co-operative garage. One hundred electric machines have been placed in the new station and six dealers in electrics and accessories have taken show room along the street frontage. As the result, the fortunate ones have reduced storage expenses considerably.

Keys are left in charge of a desk man, who is responsible for every machine not in the hands of its owner. Beside him is a large call board with various hours marked, so that an owner may leave a car call at the garage as he would a waking call at a hotel. Attendants deliver the machine at this prearranged hour.

In establishing the garage it was necessary to install one of the largest electrical charging boards ever built. With it, each car can be charged without leaving its stall. Flat rates have been established for most of the electrics and will be maintained, at least until more accurate figures can be established. The average cost of keeping a car is forty-five dollars a month and in this rate is included everything from washing and charging to the little services the owners are sure to demand.

  1. Hirudinea says: September 6, 20121:52 pm

    Electric cars? Co-operative garage? Bloody hippies!

  2. DocScience says: September 7, 201210:34 am

    Then, as now, electric cars were MUCH more expensive than gasoline autos.

    And the electric car owners were mostly wealthy women who wanted independence and mobility, but could not, or desired not to, hand crank and drive a smelly gas auto.

  3. Hirudinea says: September 7, 20126:26 pm

    @ DocScience – I can hardly blame them though, the fact is that the kickback on an engine could break your arm if you held it wrong, so you can see the appeal of an electric car.

  4. namsupo says: September 7, 20129:21 pm

    Ok, so this is electric as in “electrically started”, not as in “electrically powered motor”, presumably?

  5. DrewE says: September 7, 201210:42 pm

    @namsupo — These would be electrically powered cars, with no gasoline engine involved.

  6. namsupo says: September 7, 201210:48 pm

    @DrewE, wow – what did they use for batteries in 1915? What sort of range would they have had?

  7. Just Old Al says: September 8, 20128:52 am

    @namsupo: Same old lead-acid technology that was used in electric cars up till the latest hybrid technologies came out (which are li-ion). Range was a city car, basically. Memory fails me but 50-60 miles was likely it. Think milk float…not Tesla. And reeeeeal long charge times…

    A lot of that wasn’t the banks of batteries(though they were large and not energy dense) but the reasonably primitive DC motor technology – and the lack of regenrative braking or other methods of conserving charge in the power cells.


  8. Toronto says: September 8, 201211:10 am

    @namusupo, @Al: Actually some used nickle-iron batteries, which despite their weight, were (and are) very forgiving in regards to over-charging and deep discharging, both of which were likely before “smart” chargers came about. They were still used in railroad applications until very recently.

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