Friday, August 29, 2014

Great Ideas In Automobile History: The Self-Starter

1905 Fiat. Note the crank under the nose.
For environmental reasons electric cars have been making a comeback, but most people forget that at one time electric cars were nearly have the vehicles on the road.... about 115 years ago. Unfortunately, they did not have enough battery power to get you very far, so long road trips were out. But they did have one advantage over their gasoline-powered competitors. They were easy to start. Until 1911, if you owned a car you had to crank it by hand in order to get it started. If you accidentally had the car in gear it might run you over if you weren't careful.

It was then that Charles Ketterling changed everything. Ketterling invented a gadget that helped resolve this dangerous enterprise of starting a car. He was able to make a battery deliver a powerful burst of energy that would turn the engine over and get it in motion. The 1912 Cadillac was the first car to employ the new device. Gas powered cars gained yet one more edge over electric cars whose limitations ultimately left them in the dust.

Photo Credit: (c) Can Stock Photo

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