CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)- A local business owner has created an alternative option to traditional horse-drawn carriage rides in downtown Charleston.
Kyle Kelly unveiled on Monday the first prototype for an all-electric, horseless carriage at Edmund’s Oast Brewing Company and Taproom.
Kelly said he began working on the e-carriage about four years ago in hopes it would offer tourists the option to take a traditional tour ride through downtown Charleston, but with a modern, eco-friendly twist.
He says it will cater to a group of people who prefer not to do walking tours or traditional carriage tours, but still want to learn about the history of the area.
“I saw an opportunity where there was a market that was not being tapped into,” said Kelly.
The creator said the design was created “with safety and comfort in mind while adhering to the aesthetics of a traditional horse-drawn carriage.” It can hold up to 18 guests, including a driver in the front, and is powered by 16 batteries with LED lights for visibility.
“It’s a modern twist because I wanted to keep that classic, Charlestonian, antebellum look with the carriage, but it is state-of-the-art because it is fully electric, it has all kinds of cool gadgets on it,” said Kelly.
The response to the unveiling has been overwhelmingly positive according to Kelly and he says other tour companies have reached out to show support and wish him well moving forward.
Additionally, he says companies and people from across the United States have reached out to ask if the carriages are available for purchase or to show support.
Currently, three more carriages are being built for local use, but Kelly hopes to one day go international.
The e-carriages are not available for tour bookings yet, as Kelly still has to go through the permitting process with the City of Charleston.
“We look forward to working with the city on it. This is a whole new concept and it kind of checks every box for the tourism industry in Charleston. So, I don’t see much negativity or pushback from the city. I think they’re going to be looking forward to this too,” said Kelly.
He hopes to begin taking guests later this summer.
The use of horse-drawn carriages in downtown Charleston has become a contentious issue in recent years with animal advocates seeking alternatives and working with City leaders to address safety issues.
Kelly said Charleston will be the home base for this project but hopes to eventually roll out the program in nearby cities facing similar issues.