With fluctuating gas prices and increasing environmental awareness, today's electric cars continue to grow in popularity. But to Columbia, they are nothing new. In 1976, Sebring-Vanguard, an electric car manufacturer, opened its national sales office and showroom off Red Branch Road. The manufacturer's all-electric CitiCar, created by Robert Gerald Beaumont, could travel up to 30 miles per hour and had a range of 40 miles. James Rouse, who led the development of Columbia in the 1960s, even bought one as a company car. According to the Columbia Archives, when the car needed a charge, Rouse and other employees plugged it into an outlet near the Rouse headquarters building in downtown Columbia. Unfortunately for Sebring-Vanguard, the car suffered due to safety concerns. Production stopped in the late 1970s.
illustration by Violet Lemay
Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times