Charles Jeantaud Builds La Automobile in 1881

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We do not know much about Charles Jeantaud except that he was a coachbuilder who created the first French electric motoring brand in 1883. He came from Limoges in Central France where the finest oak barrels have contained many a fine batch of Cognac and Bordeaux wines.

Camille Faure and Charles Jeantaud Combine Skills

charles jeantaud

The Tilbury: Unknown Author: Public Domain

Charles and Camille Alphonse Faure hit it off together. The inventor of the first commercial lead-acid battery and the coachbuilder from Limoges may have chatted for many hours over designs.

Then in 1881, Charles Jeantaud fitted a Tilbury-style buggy with a Gramme-electric motor and a Fulmen battery to create French motoring history. In fact, he sold his Jeantaud range of electric cars from 1883 to 1906.

Charles Jeantaud soon realized the limitations of a Tilbury-style buggy intended to be horse drawn. He was perhaps the first person to experiment with front wheel drive using an unusual bevel-gear layout. He also sold gas-powered cars from 1902 to 1904 which was an achievement in those days.

More Great Ideas That Flowed from This Beginning

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Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat: Public Domain

However, Charles Jeantaud really made his mark when Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat set the world’s first automobile speed record.

He installed a bullet-shaped single-seat body on a Jeantaud chassis and drive train, to achieve a 0.62-mile (1 kilometer) record. By completing a single flying run in 57 seconds reaching 39.23 miles per hour on December 18, 1898. The esteemed Count bettered his own record to 41.41 miles per hours a month later.

Unfortunately, for him progress begot progress. Camille Jenatzy trounced him ten days later in a similar car and went on to reach 60 miles an hour on April 29, 1899. We may wonder what the point of this was, looking back now. We now have electric cars exceeding multiples of Camille Jenatzy’s record. The point is these men were risking their lives to create the foundations of the electric cars we have today. And therefore we should remember them for their contribution to progress.


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Preview: Charles Jeantaud in Unknown Vehicle in 1898


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I tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will not deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time. My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast. I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned. Richard Farrell

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