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Breakthrough: The starter motor

2 years ago

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David Twohig | Engineer


17 January 2022

In 1901 the best-selling car in the United States was the electric Columbia Runabout. Not the best-selling electric car in the US that year – it was the best-selling car, full stop. The next time an electric vehicle would top the US sales charts would be more than a century later, in late 2018, when Tesla’s Model 3 repeated the feat, albeit briefly.

These days, we tend to forget that 130 or so years ago the nascent automobile industry saw a brutal knife-fight between three competing powertrain technologies – steam, electricity and a new-fangled thing called petrol (or gasoline). In 1900 the market was locked in an almost equal three-way split between these technologies.

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