Grateful American® Foundation

Who unveiled the first electric automobile today?

July 27th

Fred_Kimball_electricvehicle_1888July 27, 1888 — Philip Pratt unveiled the first electric automobile today — the e-trike.

Built for him by Fred M. Kimball of the Fred M. Kimball Company, the vehicle’s 10 lead-acid cells created 20 volts to a 0.5 horsepower DC motor. The driver sat above the battery assemblage. The whole setup weighed about 300 pounds and had a top speed of eight miles-per-hour.

The Pratt-Kimball device wasn’t the first electric tricycle in the world — that milestone belongs to British engineers William Ayrton and John Perry — but it led the way to American innovation in self-propelled vehicles.

Considered the father of the American electric automobile, Pratt and his invention might have gone unnoticed but for the journalistic professionalism of the editor of a short-lived Boston magazine devoted to the wonders of electricity, Modern Light and Heat.

Words of Wisdom

We received an invitation last Friday from a gentleman who is giving much attention to electric vehicles — Mr. P.W. Pratt of Boston — to take a ride on an electric tricycle that had just been completed for him by a well-know electrical manufacturing concern of this city.

— editor of "Modern Light and Heat" magazine, August 2, 1888

Partners & Supporters