Charles Page’s calamitous locomotive left the fledgling electric vehicle movement in disarray in 1851. The root cause may have been a mechanical genius attempting to double up as a platinum-zinc battery specialist. By all accounts, his carriage worked although his batteries fell apart. However, another inventive spirit named Johann Kravogl was waiting in the wings.
Johann Kravogl Was Waiting for Gaston Planté’s Lead Acid Battery
Remember, there was no technical education in those days. Scientists were often ministers of religion who at least had some academic knowledge, or inventive village blacksmiths intrigued by new-fangled electricity.
Gaston Planté was an exception though. He was an anthropologist with an interest in flightless birds and dinosaurs. We have no idea what took him down the path to his invention of the lead-acid battery cell.
Perhaps something someone else said at the Academy of Science inspired him. Whatever the case, his stroke of genius was what Johann Kravogl needed.
Johann Kravogl’s Mysterious, Enigmatic Electric Motorcycle
Johann Kravogl’s father was a court official, but both his parents died when he was young. Necessity is the mother of invention. He trained to be a locksmith before becoming a mechanic at the University of Innsbruck, where he made devices for education.
He also made several of his own inventions, including a model for a compressed air locomotive, an electric motor, and a rapid-fire rifle. However, we remember him most on this site for his work on high voltage capacitors, and an electric motorcycle some said surpassed anything else by 20% for performance, and efficiency.
Johann Kravogl exhibited his electric motorcycle at the Paris World Fair of 1867, where it attracted a silver medal but no angel investors. He retired from science and vanished from the world stage. Alas, that is all that we can tell you. Not even a photograph of the electrical motorcycle appears to have survived. One observer wrote it was not particularly practical.
Preview Image: Kravogl Model Steam Locomotive