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.
Produced by Christopher Intagliata, Senior Producer