This February, for the first time since Charles Duryea won, America’s first motor vehicle race, a re-creation of the race was completed, with a slight twist. The 101 Celsius Electric Vehicle Rally retraced the path of the 1895 Chicago Times-Herald Race with electric drive vehicles. The Chicago Time Herald Race is considered to be the first motor vehicle race in North America and was organized to show that self-powered vehicles were viable alternatives to horse-drawn carriages. While electric drive vehicle rallies are fairly common on the West coast and warmer regions, the Chicago Electrified Vehicle Rally aimed to prove electric drive vehicles fare well even in colder climates.

The EV Rally departed from the Chicago Auto Show and re-traced the 50-mile round trip between Chicago and Evanston, Illinois. Chicago commuters travel an average of 22 miles to work. The choice of the 50-mile route was designed to show that commuters are able to use electric drive vehicles, even during winter temperatures.

Thirteen vehicles ran in the EV Rally: Chevrolet Volt, Fisker Karma, Ford C-max Energi,
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, Tesla Roadster, Toyota Prius, Toyota Prius C, Toyota Prius PHEV, Volkswagen Passat TDI, VIA Motors EREV Silverado, and a Smith Electric Delivery Vehicle.

Unlike the 1895 race, when only two of the six vehicles completed the course, the 2013 race had all competitors completing the course, proving that electric-drive vehicles can operate in cold weather environments.

The Telsa Model S was one of 13 electric vehicles that ran in the Chicago Auto Rally in February re-creating America’s first motor vehicle race. Credit: NAFTC.

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