Flashback, 2013 Tesla vs 1915 Model T Ford

We compare the electric car to its direct predecessor, the hydrocarbon-burning automobile, much as our forebears must have compared the first motorcar to the trusty nag, which was soon to be advertised with hefty cash rebates and complimentary oat bags.

So as not to be seen as blithely unappreciative of a new technology’s inevitable teething issues, namely the Tesla’s limited driving range and the nation’s inadequate charging infrastructure, we developed a kind of handicap for the Model S. The Tesla would not go up against a new car, which would enjoy a de facto head start thanks to more than a century of development. Instead, it would compete against a car more in line with an electric vehicle’s limitations. Hence, we looked back over automotive history for a suitable candidate.

We would start at the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex on Detroit’s Piquette Street, where the T was designed and first built. The red-brick, New England mill–style building erected in 1904 survives as a museum staffed by knowledgeable mavens who know the correct ways to apply lapping compound and petcock sealant.

With Tesla’s Fremont, California, assembly plant being much too far away, the finish line would instead be electrical pioneer Nikola Tesla’s old Wardenclyffe laboratory in Shoreham, New York, on Long Island. The lab, which opened in 1902, is itself in the process of becoming a museum. Depending on the route each team chose, the race course could be as short as 682 miles but long enough that the Tesla would need to charge several times.

It was a close race!

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9 Responses to Flashback, 2013 Tesla vs 1915 Model T Ford

  1. Karabar

    There were some pretty fast buggies in the Gordon Bennet Cup.

  2. Snoopy

    1891
    William Morrison of Des Moines, Iowa builds the first successful electric automobile in the United States.

    1893
    A handful of different makes and models of electric cars are exhibited in Chicago.

    1897
    The first electric taxis hit the streets of New York City early in the year. The Pope Manufacturing Company of Connecticut becomes the first large-scale American electric automobile manufacturer.

    There’s a reason why electric cars never took off.

  3. Dr Fred Lenin

    Interesting Snoopy ,didnt realise they were around then.

  4. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    more than one reason

  5. The comparison should have been with the first electric cars that were developed in the early 1800s, followed by a number of successors in the early 1900s. Look where that got them.

  6. Nob

    Yebbut evil car companies conspired to kill the electric car, don’t you know?

    Every lefty my age has seen that film.

  7. Chris M

    Well in Australia we simply don’t have enough electricity available for cars, maybe wood-gas powered cars will come back?

  8. teamv

    Chris M: converting old diesel land cruisers to run on deep fryer oil was a thing in the 80’s and 90’s.

    There was also teh fad of running LPG tanks in the ford fairmonts but i am not sure petrol stations even sell LPG at the bowser any more.

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