The ‘First’ Battle of Gas Versus Electric

11:07 minutes

Last year Americans bought some 96,000 plug-in electric vehicles. That’s just over a half-percent of all the cars sold in 2013. But as plug-in electric vehicles struggle to carve out a slice of the auto market, it’s worth remembering the first such battle—at the dawn of the 1900s, before the Model T and the proliferation of gas stations. At that time, says Andy Beckman, archivist at The Studebaker National Museum, electrics were a cleaner, quieter alternative to gas-powered cars—and a safer one, too. In South Bend, Indiana, Studebaker made 1,841 electric vehicles before giving in to gas.

Segment Guests

Andy Beckman

Andy Beckman is an archivist at The Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana.

Meet the Producer

About Christopher Intagliata

Christopher Intagliata was Science Friday’s senior producer. He once served as a prop in an optical illusion and speaks passable Ira Flatowese.