In August this year my family and I took a day trip out to the Beaulieu National Motor Museum located in Dorset. Our last visit to this museum was in 2011. We were excited to see what had changed in the museum as the last six years since the rise and adoption of the Electric Car, also known the an Electric Vehicle or EV.
I was already aware that Jonny Smith’s non-production 1974 Enfield 8000 ‘Flux Capacitor’ (the world’s fastest road-legal car) had moved to the museum, but I wasn’t here to see this. I was here to see Electric Cars from their very beginnings to the present day, after all this is the National Motor Museum!
In the list of production Electric Cars I was looking forward to ‘perhaps’ seeing at National Motor Museum, included the Tesla Roadster, the General Motors EV1, the Toyota RAV4 EV, the Honda Insight, maybe even the ground breaking Nissan Leaf or Toyota Prius? Perhaps there could even be a production Tesla Model S or Tesla Model X? Maybe a Vauxhall Ampera or a Chevrolet Bolt? There are loads of other wacky EV’s as well, perhaps they’d even be a Hydrogen fuel cell car which is also classed as an EV. I was interested in finding out how the motor museum had changed to include and tell the EV story.
On entering the museum I found a 2017 Peugeot 308 SW Diesel in pride of place at the entrance, this reassured me that the museum was constantly changing and updating their motor vehicles; I just knew I was going to find at least one recent Electric Vehicle at Beaulieu!
I found production petrol cars. I found production diesel cars. I even found steam cars. But I couldn’t find the electric cars! I asked at the museum’s information desk, they directed me to the Electric Vehicles on display.
At Beaulieu National Motor Museum it turns out there are three non-production electric vehicles, and just one production EV. The single production EV at Beaulieu National Motor Museum is 116 years old! Hardly a good representation of production EVs through the ages!
Production Electric Vehicles at Beaulieu National Motor Museum
- 1901: Colombia Electric, formerly owned by Queen Alexandra of Denmark
Non-Production Electric Vehicles at Beaulieu National Motor Museum
- 1939: Harrods Delivery Van
- 1974: Jonny Smith’s heavily modified Enfield
- 1993: Solar Flair, World Solar Challenge EV
Gallery, click for larger
In this 1999 interview with The Telegraph the late-Lord Montagu who set up the National Motor Museum in 1952 said electric cars were eco, boring, and all looked the same. He also stated EVs wouldn’t be exhibited in the National Motor Museum. Is it time for this decision to be revisited?
In case you were wondering, in the end I did succeed in finding a recent production electric vehicle at the Beaulieu National Motor Museum; I found a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV in the visitor car park, which I then drove home … on account of it is my own vehicle. If you want to see a passenger EV that is less than a century old at the Beaulieu National Motor Museum then you’ll need bring your own.
I don’t find it acceptable that the National Motor Museum is excluding a class of vehicle, do you?