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BAIC E150 EV Electric Cars

The Lost Cord: A Storyteller’s of the Electric Car

by Barbara Taylor

for the first time: the story of Bob and his 1973 CitiCar — its and tragedy in the gasoline-dependent automotive and his second remarkable attempt in — which almost — to bring a modern, and safe electric car, the to the marketplace.

* * *

What kind of man together an electric car company — for one stellar moment becomes the sixth largest of automobiles in the United States?

How do you a Cadillac dealership, a Ford a Chrysler dealership, a Volkswagen to sell a micro-sized plastic car looks like an electrified wedge in every state in the States? And 240 agree?

Who buys shockingly red, yellow, or cars to stow in their load on their yacht, tow their Winnebago — or as their sole automotive

Only one man has ever tried to so high — not once, but — in providing America an alternative transportation vision. Who is he?

Bob Beaumont, owner of Sebring-Vanguard who the CitiCar in the seventies, and attempted a with a high-tech Tropica in the nineties. The man who had the chutzpa to look in the eye, gamble the comfortable he had as a successful Chrysler-Plymouth dealer in New York, and go toe-to-toe with the Government regulatory giants.

first attempt was a souped-up Car golf cart. He was thumbing the pages of his golfing magazine one and saw the ad for an electric-powered golf cart. The I saw it, Beaumont remembers, I knew I had the answer to electric car transportation.

Minutes later, he was on the phone to the President of Marketing.

Mr. Balfour! he into the mouthpiece that Your golf cart be a testbed for an electric commuter car of transporting two people in an urban or environment. That could millions of sales.

A year feeling like Ford and Lewis and Clark, Orville and he joined a line of automotive hoping to revolutionize the way the world its wheels on asphalt.

His Vanguard an enhanced golf cart four aluminum poles up a canopy — made its debut crawling through New City’s dank Holland to Wall Street, where it was met by the stares of the world’s power

Shortly thereafter, he pitted his against the biggest hill he find. With a testing lab the ascent, the car slaved and strained its way slower and s-l-o-w-e-r and s-l-o-o-o-w-e-r up the hill. Beaumont said, I have treated a dog that

When the car dragged its gasping over the crest of the hill, hooted with glee, It DID it! In his the modern electric car revolution was

Now Beaumont had a car — well, of a car. The question was how to market it? every previous and many entrepreneurs failed.

They the EV business; but they were about how to sell an car. lived, breathed, and thrived, on business. The quintessential car man, he deals and dealers.

He knew the lingo, the game, the And he had worked his way up from a lowly lot boy in his to owning a major dealership in New York by his mid thirties.

When talked, people caught the

Associated Press carried the then Reader’s Digest . One industrial designer Jim Muir a clip about the car and saw immediately it was God-awful ugly. He called scheduled a meeting, unveiled a eye-catching electric cheese-wedge in football-helmet-strength plastic — and walked onto the Florida floor and halted production.

months, the CitiCar — two shorter than the VW Beetle was born, midwived in the middle of an Oil Americans panicked about fuel-dependent autos. The media their way to Beaumont: Newsweek, Magazine, Time, Popular . And TV crews.

And commentators. Beaumont and his CitiCar hit sound-bite heaven. queued in line to buy. spread across the United

Eventually, nearly 2,300 be shipped — not to back-alley EV hobbyists — but to prestigious car Soon, the perky little car was on showroom floor.

The car captured the imagination. Millionaires lined up to Beaumont’s dream. The U.S. opened its coffers. A major company, and a multinational conglomerate this one-man-dream of an automotive

Soon Congress came They wanted Beaumont as an witness.

This was the man who was selling a car listed — as extras a speedometer with odometer, a tire, a radio, a heater, an cord, and windows. The original came with plastic

Owners took perverse in their vehicle with comments as: Meets basic in the truest sense of the word; You out of a parking space, gun it full and a VW runs over you; want comfort, ease, and speed. None of these in the CitiCar.

It was a feat of imagination, one not on the U.S. Government. And Beaumont was to drive the philosophical point

Seeking some temporary exemptions from the newly National Highway Traffic Administration, he extolled for the first on paper his full vision the need in America for electric-powered

The staggering waste of oil, he results in millions of steel having to be sent to crushers or up in junk yards polluting our The gas car utilizes less than 20 of the actual energy contained in a of gas. America consumes gallons of gas per day at $1.25 a gallon. represents a $400,000,000 daily of which 80 percent, or $320,000,000 a day into thin air.

On a basis, we destroy forever gallons of oil which is the entire of Prudoe Bay in only four

It did no good. His car was eventually tested by Union, and rated grossly In a scathing attack, with ruthless language, the October issue of Consumers Reports to go out of its way to condemn the non-auto car. like imperil the lives, acid pouring from batteries, foolhardy to drive, to virtual uselessness, peppered the report.

America at that time — without questioning Consumers Union. Shipments stopped midway across the States and turned back. panicked; CitiCar owners the telephone lines.

To compare the new, electric-powered CitiCar steel-frame-heavy, gasoline vehicles was pitting a poodle against a horse contending the two cars alike because they had four wheels.

Soon, could not find an open anywhere. Consumers Union turned his transportation revolution Oil was again plentiful, and America its daily traffic-clogged commute to belching four-fifth’s of the world’s oil resource into airborne

The electric car dream was dead, and was bankrupt. Eventually the Government, by the Oil Embargo, enacted legislation to and built thousands of electric But Beaumont was never even

Congress wanted an electric to the gasoline car. It refused to the possibility that America was ready for the niche car, a vehicle.

In typical bureaucratic the U.S. Government paid million dollars for two electric eventually eliminating maintenance cost analysis, durability reliability, and safety testing to disastrous cost overruns. had offered them 500 cars for 1.7 dollars.

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He was turned down.

No one wanted an electric car.

Two passed. Beaumont continued in the business, setting up a successful car lot near Baltimore. Then the came to try again.

California was zero-emission vehicles; pollution was in the again; and Beaumont still had the

He assembled some of the old players, and computerized design, Jim Muir and he out a new design for the Tropica . Beaumont down four unalterable The car had to be good-looking, affordable, better any other EV built thus and safe.

The whole automotive world was to the gauntlet California had thrown build zero-emission cars by or don’t bother to cross our line. Iacocca once California the mirror of the future; mirror was now reflecting an electric car

General Motors, following a historical path of titillating the with EV prototype cars and gaining massive free from the press — now the fray with a coupe ironically, Impact.

For a moment, again, it seemed Beaumont grasp — finally the holy grail that so had sought. He had a $17,000 car that raves even from the Car Driver magazine. From the drop of the accelerator pedal, it was that lightweight, topless, electric cars can run rings gas production cars converted to

It had the ingredients of a great-handling car.

No one to this day, exactly went wrong with second attempt. The Electric Research Institute — a lobby for the utilities — major funding into the and then sought control. was forced out.

He lacked credentials they thought to break into the big time.

He was outrageous, irritating, self-deprecatingly and a brilliant salesman, manager, and raconteur. He had nothing in common conservative financiers, or behind-the-scene He lacked corporate polish that stultifying golf-course where the big deals are cut.

to his words:

Say what you want about me, extraordinaire, used car salesman, if it be done right, I don’t any part of it.

To him, right did not a David-Copperfield world of illusion macho men and seductive women power-packed gasoline steeds the American dream of empty canyons, and snow-peaked mountains. For right meant reality: an affordable, pollution-free, commuter car for a choking on its own emissions, stuck in traffic jams, and still the same 20 miles a day it had been for the past 80 years.

He failed failed twice. Today, he the dream has passed him by.

They say the has billions of brain cells, store all the knowledge accumulated a person’s life. About 90 of my brain cells — the ones that are left have pondered and thought what it would take to try to the rest of the world that I was

He is still wondering.


The Lost Cord: A Storyteller’s of the Electric Car

$25.95 Available Greyden Press 2020 Place Columbus, OH 43204 Accepts all major credit

BAIC E150 EV Electric Cars
BAIC E150 EV Electric Cars
BAIC E150 EV Electric Cars
BAIC E150 EV Electric Cars

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