Nearly 130 years ago, German inventor Andreas Flocken was working on a prototype that attracted some attention in Coburg, a small town in Bavaria. On September 28th of 1888, the local newspaper wrote about a “steam chaise” in Flocken’s workshop that “should arouse great interest” after its completion.

Obviously, the author didn’t really understand what kind of “chaise” he had seen in Flocken’s garage, and that it had nothing to do with steam. But how could he? After all, the inventor was about to build a vehicle that is often said to be the world’s first real electric car. Designed like a carriage, made mostly of wood, and weighing 900 pounds, the Flocken Elektrowagen managed a maximum speed of nine miles per hour.

Later in 1888, Andreas Flocken set out for the first test drive with his newly invented EV — and it was a success. Well, almost. After a two and a half hour ride, just when he was about to reach the village of Redwitz, 16 miles east of Coburg, the Elektrowagen stopped. Its battery, although sustainably charged with water power, was dead.

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