Long before the Prius and Tesla there was the Electruc.

If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone. But it demonstrates the forward-thinking mindset of Washington’s best and brightest. Yes, that’s a light joke, since it was Seattle City Light’s R&D team who developed the Electruc in 1968. The truck was an experimental, all-electric utility truck. A sign painted on the side of the Electruc, proudly proclaimed, “Your bright new future is all electric.”

The idea was born out of a concern for the growing environmental problems caused by fossil fuels and pollution. This was long before “greenhouse gases” and “climate change” were part of society’s everyday lexicon.

The Electruc wasn’t a one-hit wonder, either. In 1973, an AMC Gremlin was modified to run on batteries. It even had its very own Electro Park charging station at the base of a parking meter. The cost to charge: 25 cents an hour. The car ran on 24 rechargeable six-volt batteries.

Fast forward another three years. The utility came up with its first electric transport vehicle, the RT1. Capable of carrying four passengers up to 75 miles on a single charge, the seven-foot-long vehicle was designed to fill the need for an all-electric vehicle that would run around the downtown core of Seattle in an internal combustion vehicle exclusion zone. The RT1 could reach a speed of 30 miles an hour on its eight six-volt batteries.

Talk about being way ahead of the times. Seattle launched its full-scale electric vehicle charging stations in 2018, 50 years after the Electruc.

Just goes to show that Washington State is as eclectic as it is electric. As a new generation of electric and autonomous vehicles begins production, the state’s leadership in these types of vehicles is as long as it is interesting.

Seattle Light's Electruc electric service vehicle
An all-electric AMC Gremlin and charging station in downtown Seattle, 1968
The RT1, a concept all-electric urban transport, 1968