California has long been a center of electric vehicle consciousness, dating back long before Tesla launched its revolutionary, all-electric, California-built car. We just encountered this Electra King, a three wheeler that was built in Long Beach back in 1974, a zero emissions proto-Tesla, if you will. It’s licensed and registered and, assuming it’s been charged up, ready to go, go, go.
While a Tesla can go as far as 265 miles on a charge, B & Z Electric Car, proud manufacturers of this combination of batteries, tiny wheels, sheet metal and fiberglass, claimed a range of 50 – 60 kilometers — remember, this was at a time when “going metric” was widely anticipated. That’s more than 30 miles so just imagine the fun family vacation you could have in one of these little babies! Why, you could go all the way to the mall and, maybe, even make it back.
It’s not very spacious but does have a real trunk so, in essence, it’s got as much utility as a contemporary Smart Car. OK, the fact that it can’t go faster than 35 mph shouldn’t be too off-putting considering that it would be beyond frightening to drive this sit-down telephone booth on a freeway even if it could keep up.
Our friends at Jalopnik noted that the Electra King seems to have inspired the design of the tiny car that Mr. Incredible drives in Pixar’s “The Incredibles.” Click here to see the very valid point they made and here to see a real, non-animated, Electra King in action.
Speaking of the cinema, we hasten to note that this little car has absolutely nothing in common with the character of the same name with alternate spelling, played by Sophie Marceau, in the James Bond film “The World Is Not Enough.” We find Ms. Marceau to be much more streamlined than her character’s namesake vehicle.