One of the most successful and long-lived electric cars ever made was the Electra King made by B&Z Electric Car Co of Long Beach, California. This boxy glassfibre-bodied microcar was built virtually unchanged for around 20 years (from 1963 to 1980).
Both three-wheeled and four-wheeled models were built, the trike having a single front wheel. A series-wound DC electric motor fed around one horsepower to one of the rear wheels via a chain and a three-speed transmission. This would provide a top speed of 18mph (ca. 29 km/h) and a range of 45 miles (ca. 72 km). More powerful (2bhp and 3.5bhp) versions were added from around 1972, and in its most potent guise (!) its top speed rose to 36mph (ca. 58 km/h).
There was a choice of tiller or steering wheel, and foot or hand controls. A variety of bodywork was made over the years, the most popular being a two-seater with a fixed roof but there was a four-seater with a Surrey-type roof and a rear-facing back seat.
Recharging was simple as well— a regular extension cord flopped out a window and about 4-6 hours does the trick to top off the six 6-volt marine batteries located under the seat.
- Engine: 36V GE Electric Motor
- Power: 1bhp, 2bhp or 3.5bhp
- Top Speed: 18mph (ca. 29 km/h) with 1bhp engine, 36mph (ca. 58 km/h) with 3.5bhp engine
- Drivetrain: Rear-Wheel Drive
- Curb Weight: ~ 500lbs
- Seating: 2
- MSRP: $2180 (1974)
B&Z Electra King rare 4-wheel version
A rare 4-wheel version of B&Z Electra King was presented around 1971. These cars were produced in much smaller quantities than 3-wheelers. Both modifications were maximally unified with each other. The 4-wheel version was slightly more expensive.