Electric-car ancient history

2 February 2009

Drawing of La Jamais ContenteFor reasons best known to itself, Mitsubishi – Japanese maker of the perennially nearly-here electric-drive i-Miev – name-checked a 109-year-old electric car called La Jamais Contente in a recent press release.

This would make sense if the pioneering battery car had some sort of connection with the Japanese maker, but if there is a link we can’t find it. La Jamais Contente, as the name suggests, was a French affair, sitting on Michelin tyres, powered by 750kg of Fulmen batteries and Postel-Vinay motors, and with a body coach-built by J. Rothschild & Fils of Paris. It was driven by a Paris-based Belgian called Camille Jenatzy.

La Jamais Contente at full powerLa Jamais Contente (which means “never satisfied”) is notable for being the first car of any kind to exceed 100km/h (about 62mph), a barrier breached during a land-speed-record run in the spring of 1899.

It was therefore also the first car capable of posting a 0-60mph time, but alas history does not appear to record how long this emotive sprint actually took.

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