It may be that nowadays the electric car makes quite the impression and is funded by big industrial firms, but in Greece it was already constructed for the first time 45 years ago!
The electric car is hosted in the industrial museum of Syros. The car was built in 1973 in an old mill building close to the Neorion yard of Ermoupolis, the capital of Syros.
This electric car is the model Enfield 8000, an innovation at the time when the problem of air pollution had made its appearance in the big cities. At the same time the concern related to oil stocks and dependence on it also grew big. It seemed that an electric car would solve many problems.
History of the electric car of Syros island
The car’s history began in the late 1960’s. The company Enfield Automotive, based in the Isle of Wight of Great Britain and owned by the Greek John Goulandris (member of a large shipowner family), won a competition for a contract with the Council of Electric Energy of England. Shortly before the start of the production of the car, Goulandris encountered technical problems with the Isle of Wight and so decided to move the factory to Syros. It was a risky decision, as the island of Syros had a long tradition in shipbuilding but no relation to the manufacturing of cars, let alone electric. However, it seems that the outcome vindicated Goulandris. The designer of the electric model was George Michael. The construction involved men from the yard, engineers, craftsmen from Syros, Piraeus and many other places around Greece. It was a truly Greek affair.
The first car made its first ride on the streets of Syros in October of ’73. The Enfield 8000 had a 12 volt dc motor and yielded 8.16 horsepower. The maximum speed was 64 km/h. It had an aluminium frame, unique aerodynamic design and a luxurious interior (leather seats, etc.). It had a length of only 2.7 meters and weighed 965 kilos (the batteries alone weighed about 136 kilos).
The contract with the Electricity Council foresaw the construction of 120 cars. After the construction of these cars, the factory was unfortunately closed down. The political situation in Greece (the dictatorship) did not favour the continuation of constructing electric cars. In Greece this car was never officially released.
A tale of two Isles
To celebrate the history of the first electric car in Greece, a documentary was filmed, titled “Ανάμεσα σε δύο νησιά» (A tale of two Isles) directed by Michael Stavropoulos (Director of magazine for cars). One day Michael Stavropoulos went to Syros to try a modern electric car. On this occasion, he was introduced to the Greek story of the electric car, talked with people involved in the construction and finally made a movie about the Enfield 8000.
Click below to take a look at the trailer of the film: