A Century Late, The Electric Car Arrives

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RENO - With pain rising at the pump, the American motorist is looking for alternatives and finding more of them....hybrids, flex fuel vehicles and electrics. You have to look close to identify some of them, others wear their different identities proudly. While hybrids currently dominate this new scene. Plug-in electrics seem poised to be the next big thing.

We've been here before. Cars like the 1912 Baker and this 1914 Detroit in the collection at Reno's William F. Harrah National Automobile Museum were cutting edge technology in their time and in fact were preferred urban transportation. Then as now, pollution was a driving force.

"But it was horse pollution," notes local electric vehicle enthusiast Bob Treglius. "Dried horse manure, urine blowing around. Dead horses in the streets. People really liked these cars. They were quiet and you didn't have to crank start them."

The future of the electric vehicle seemed solid. Tregilus says Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were talking, then a World War, a suspicious fire at the Edison factory. The fortunes of the electric car faded and the path to nearly a century of addiction to petroleum was set.

California tried to jump start the switch in the 1990's and some electrics were built, but the time wasn't right. Now with enthusiasts like Tregilus building their own, the industry is about to jump in with products like the Chevy Volt, due in a couple of years. After false starts and a century late, the electric car may be pulling into the passing lane.

"We had a false start in the 90's, says Treglius, "but I think now with gas prices rising, wtih our need to be energy independent for national security purposes the electric car is here to stay this time."

Tregilus, who rides a self-built electric powered motorcycle is hosting a presentation Thursday night at the Auto Museum. The event starts at 5:30. His talk begins at about 6:30.