An "electric horseless carriage" was unveiled at the New York Auto Show last week. At the ceremony, it was heralded as the future of tourist rides in Central Park by its builders and local politicians alike, a replacement for the barbaric horse-drawn carts of today. And sadly, it might never see the light of day.
In case you're not up to speed on the ongoing saga of the horse-drawn carriage fight, here are the basic points. New New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio made a strident campaign pledge to ban the horse-drawn carriages which ferry tourists around in Central Park as soon as he took office, based mainly on the claim that just living in a city and pulling a cart counts as abuse, for horses.
All that, despite the fact that the industry is generally pretty well-regulated, and all horses get five weeks vacation, which is more vacation than you will ever get.
He proposed replacing them all with vintage electric cars, which do not need vacation. Also, they have no feelings.
Yet here we are in April, four months into the de Blasio administration, and you can still walk up to Central Park and hop in the back of one of those things so that you can pay a lot of money to ride behind a smelly beast and everyone who actually lives here can look upon you, disdainfully, as one of those people who holds everyone else up on sidewalks and can't swipe your Metrocard properly and just generally ruining places that used to have character (read: crime) like Times Square and Little Italy.
Because America is a free country.
So, like many politicians with their strong campaign promises, Bill de Blasio is letting this one slide early.
And opposition to his plan to get rid of the horses is only picking up. Not only is Liam Neeson, a born-and-bred New Yorker if there ever was one, keen on keeping the horses, but the Daily News is launching a campaign to keep them on city streets (which mainly just consists of a petition), and even that bastion of liberalism, the New York Times, just wrote an editorial opposing de Blasio's plan.
So far, the Mayor's plan is Not Going Well.
But that hasn't stopped the relentless powers of Industry, Capitalism, and Animal Welfare (all noble and important goals, really) from uniting together and bounding full steam ahead with old-timey looking electric cars anyways.
And to be honest, if this prototype of one of the horse-replacements is any indication, I might be getting board with the plan, too.
Because it looks good. Better than any silly horse-ful carriage looks, anyways. Built by restoration and coachbuilding operation The Creative Workshop, and commissioned by animal rights group NYCLASS, its fully modern, but certainly looks the part of an antique electric vehicle.
Okay, sure, it's absolutely enormous up close, roughly the size of 19 African Elephant bulls, which may be a slight exaggeration, but it's got style where it counts.
Which is in the details, like the neat little switchgear.
And the dials:
It's got a top speed of 30 miles per hour, though that's limited to just 5 miles an hour in Central Park, and it'll have a 100 mile range on six hours of charge. It's not Tesla Model S territory, but it'll do the job it was meant to do.
We'll just see if it ever makes it to the first day.
Photos credit: Raphael Orlove/Jalopnik, Getty Images, AP