Electric vehicles have been created since the dawn of the automobile age. But practicalities such as battery weight and limited energy density have been the factors that have limited their role in society until relatively recently. It is not for lack of trying, however, that electric vehicles haven't become mainstream consumer products.
A recent review by GE of electric vehicles with which it has been involved over the years tells the story. The Steinmetz Electric Car in 1914, for example, was a pure electric vehicle able could reach a top speed of 40 miles per hour and was powered by fourteen, six-volt batteries. Charles Steinmetz, the founder of GE’s research lab, was a pioneer in electrification technology.
Then there is the GE-100, produced in 1977 around the time of GE’s centennial anniversary. It was a four passenger compact electric vehicle that showcased GE technologies at the time: (even Lexan windows using the same material as the Apollo missions.)
Another hybrid test vehicle developed in 1982 came out of a partnership with Volkswagon Research and the U.S. Dept. of Energy. Creatively dubbed the Hybrid Test Vehicle, it is similar to today’s plug-in hybrid cars. It hit over 100 mpg. Then there was the Electric Test Vehicle-1, built in 1978. It was also a DoE joint project featuring GE technology and an automotive body design by Chrysler. Using commercial lead acid batteries and GE traction motor/drive and controls developments, ETV-1 was the first ground-up modern day electric vehicle design.
The ETX-1 pure electric car came out of another D.O.E. joint partnership and used a two-passenger Ford Mercury LN-7 model. Unlike previous attempts that used dc motor/generators, it used ac motors. The ETX-II followed a year later in 1984 and used a larger model Ford Aerostar van.
See more attempts at electric vehicle developments here: http://www.gereports.com/driving-down-ev-memory-lane-a-look-back-at-ges-test-models/