In 1897, a small fleet of electric taxis trundled along the streets of London alongside the horse-drawn carriages of the day. London’s Science Museum recently obtained one of these relics, known as a Bersey taxi, for use in a display about climate change.
The museum’s new centerpiece wasn’t the first electric car ever; that award would be jointly split by a handful of inventors who designed varying styles of electric vehicles in the 1830s. According to the Science Museum, this electric vehicle was, “the first self-propelled vehicle for hire.” Developed by Walter Bersey, the Bersey taxi didn’t last very long, closing down in 1899, according to Wired UK.
It’s a shame, really, since — as Bersey so nicely rounded it up — with electric vehicles, “there is no smell, no noise, no heat, no vibration, no possible danger, and it has been found that vehicles built on this company’s system do not frighten passing horses”.
More from Smithsonian.com: