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Photos: There was a fleet of electric vehicles in Vancouver 110 years ago

"Bottled electricity makes this truck go"

Electric vehicles are a popular topic, and have been quickly growing in popularity in the 21st century.

However, they're not a new idea, and in fact some of Vancouver's earliest vehicles were fully electric, with a sizable fleet operating in the city 110 years ago.

The big proponent for these types of vehicles was the BC Electric Railway Company (BCER). While it might sound odd that the public transit provider was advertising people buy electric trucks, it makes sense when you learn they also were the power company.

Both TransLink and BC Hydro have connections to BCER.

Having electric vehicles back then also makes sense, since getting gasoline to Vancouver was more difficult over a century ago, and the city's first gas stations were just being opened up. Electricity, on the other hand, was something that could be created locally.

"Bottled electricity makes this truck go," read some ads.

"No noise. No grease. No dirt. No smell," stated others.

And while technology for electric vehicles fell behind combustion engines, in the early days of automobiles the two types of power were competitive. The fastest cars were electric until the turn of the century, and major companies were producing electric vehicles as WWI started.

It wasn't just passenger cars. Some were working vehicles, hauling cable, or delivering items. One photo from the Vancouver Archives shows a fleet of electric milk delivery trucks from the 1950s.

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