Photo ou archives : F-M. Dumas
Electric Scooter - 1941
Though electric vehicles are very much in the news today, and several major motorcycle manufacturers have recently unveiled prototype electric scooters or tricycles designed to cut pollution in towns, this "futuristic" means of propulsion is really as old as the idea of motorized vehicles.
Under the Jackboot
Electric vehicles took on a special importance in Occupied Europe during World War II because gasoline was strictly rationed. In Belgium, under German occupation since the spring of 1940, the Limelette brothers decided to get around gas rationing by building an electric motorcycle in the Socovel factory. The first prototype ran in January 1941. The example shown is one of 15 machines built later that year, during the model's first production run.
Three six-volt batteries carried in the roomy central trunk gave the Socovel a range of around 30 miles at a speed of 15 to 20 mph. Though it was costly, the Socovel was as successful as any machine could be in those difficult times, and around 400 were built. But their limited performance worked against them when gas was once again available after the Liberation, after Socovel altered their production scheme to handle 123cc Villiers two-stroke engines for their first postwar motorcycles. The day of the popular electric scooter has yet to come.
Engine: ACEC electric motor powered by three 6V 45AH batteries
Power Rating: 1 hp
Suspension: (front) girder forks; (rear) rigid
Wheels: 2.25x18 in wire
Weight: 165 lb
Maximum Speed: 15 to 20 mph
Recharging time: 10 hours
The Germans wanted Socovels to use as ferrying vehicles on their airfields, but Socovel's reluctance to supply the army of occupation was so strong that the order was never fulfilled.