EV Engineering News

Farewell to electric car pioneer Bob Beaumont

Bob Beaumont, the creator of the CitiCar, passed away Monday at the age of 79.

As the owner of an auto dealership in the 1960s, Mr. Beaumont wondered why a country that could build a battery-powered lunar rover was so dependent on gasoline that an OPEC oil embargo could cripple its economy. He founded a new company, opened a factory in Sebring, Florida, and the first Citicar – with a body of football-helmet-style plastic, a 1.8-kilowatt motor and a 36-volt lead-acid battery – rolled off the line in 1974.

At first, sales were strong – Beaumont’s company, Sebring-Vanguard, became the country’s sixth-largest automaker, and sold 2,206 CitiCars in three years. But the timing was poor. The Arab oil embargo ended, ushering in the era of cheap oil, and the press panned the new EV for safety reasons, notably Consumer Reports, which called it “foolhardy to drive on any public road.” The company folded in 1977, but an outfit called Commuter Vehicles bought the rights to the design, and produced a couple thousand right-hand drive units for the US Postal Service (Mr B’s creation remains the best-selling postwar EV to date, and at least a few are still on the road).

The CitiCar, based on a modified golf cart, was tiny, and must have inspired some snickers back in the days of V8s. The final model had a top speed of 30-50 mph and a range of around 40 miles. For better or for worse, when people of an age to remember the 1970s think of an EV, the CitiCar is what they visualize, a perception that the current generation of EV makers is working hard to electrocute. But, as several EV celebs have already noted, everyone working in the industry today owes a debt to this visionary inventor and businessman.


Image: autohistorian

Create Account. Already Registered? Log In

Virtual Conference on EV Infrastructure: Free to Attend

Don't miss our next Virtual Conference on December 4-6, 2023. Register for the free webinar sessions below and reserve your spot to watch them live or on-demand.


EV Engineering Webinars & Whitepapers

EV Tech Explained

The Tech

BMS functional verification: the safety-first approach

An open-source operating system for charging infrastructure: why one stack should charge them all (Webinar)

Renesas unveils processor roadmap for next-gen automotive SoCs and MCUs

Researchers shape hard carbon to form high-capacity electrodes for sodium-ion batteries

The Vehicles & Infrastructure

Utah DOT receives $43 million in grants to build EV fast charging stations

SSE Energy Solutions to build electric truck charging hub in Birmingham, UK

Tips for fleet managers transitioning from diesel to EVs (Webinar)

KEBA and Easelink work to develop automated hands-free conductive charging for EVs at home

Clenergy EV adds more CPOs to its European e-roaming network, enables touch-free payments

ubitricity and UK Power Networks to launch program that shifts charging demand from peak hours

Does Germany have too many public EV charging stations?

Low electrical conductivity coolants for EV charging applications (Webinar)

SWTCH and Hubject to expand roaming for North American EV charging

HummingbirdEV secures funding for its commercial EV systems