In the early 1970s, Robert Beaumont, founder and owner of the Sebring-Vanguard company in Florida, was inspired by golf carts and hired car designer Jim Muir to design something similar, only for public roads. The company’s first model was a small electric car, the Vanguard Coupe. But the car did not find popularity, and the second development of Beaumont-Muir became the CitiCar.
The CitiCar was a golf-cart-like vehicle. The first, in 1974, was called SV-36 and had a 2.5-horsepower engine and 36V battery pack, and the second, SV-48, had a 3.5-horsepower engine and 48V battery pack.
The third model variant of the CitiCar, sometimes referred to as a Transitional CitiCar or 1976 1/2 model, had an improved drive train with a 6 hp (4.5 kW) motor, and the body was changed slightly to incorporate heater inlet vents on the side of the vehicle and some had the improved door style with better latches and permanently installed sliding windows.
The largest model was called Citivan or later Comuta van. Many Comuta vans were right-hand drive and were delivered to the U.S. Mail.
All models had a welded aluminum tube frame, ABS body, rigid axles, and leaf springs front and rear. Top speeds varied from 48 km/h to 80 km/h, and the range was up to 64 km.
The early models did not yet have special features such as lockable doors or air conditioning. Starting with the number 1500, almost every twentieth car had various improvements, which served as a reason for new advertising. For example, drum brakes were introduced on the #2011 model, a new parking brake lever on the #2080, a new accelerator pedal on the #2426, and so on.
In 1976, so many Citicars were produced that Sebring-Vanguard became the sixth largest automaker in the U.S. after GM, Ford, Chrysler, AMC and Checker. Nominally, production ceased on in 1977 due to very poor sales.
After the end of production in 1977, another company, Commuter Vehicles, Inc. bought the horrible design from Beaumont, and produced the next model on its base, Comuta-Car, and then Comuta-Van. All cars had top speed of up to 80 km/h, and the range on a single charge did not exceed 64 kilometers.
The CitiCar and its modifications became the last mass-produced American electric car until the advent of the Tesla.