Little-known fact but around the turn of the 20th century, about one-third of the cars on the road were electric. During the decades sandwiched around 1900, there was fierce competition between electric, steam and internal combustion engine powered vehicles. Though we all know how that worked out--more than 99% of the cars on the road today use an internal combustion engine--it's a fascinating counterfactual to imagine that things had gone another way.
That idea sparked Florida resident Frank Weeks to build an electric-powered Model T all by himself--and he even put his own little spin on it, adding solar panels to aid the batteries that let it roam about 20 miles before it needs a charge.
Weeks, a car aficionado who already powers his home with solar panels, got to thinking: "What if the largest car producer in the world had continued to build and perfect the electric car? How would the world have changed?"
Weeks can't answer that question definitively, but he can tell you that an electric Model T -- based on one in production in the second decade of the 20th century -- will run about 20 miles before running out of battery.
The part-time Vero Beach resident built his zero-carbon-emissions Model T in about 1,000 hours using parts collected from around the U.S. "I bought new wheels in Iowa, and new tires and a steering column from Pennsylvania, and little kerosene lights from the Internet," he said. Solar panels supplement the batteries, augmenting the older technology.