- 0 views
- By Caroline McNally
Electric Vehicles are a trending topic as federal and state mandates, federal funding, and rebates have been put in place to propel the electric vehicle market into a sustainable future. With electric vehicles’ futuristic connotation and renewable energy usage it may come as a surprise that electric vehicles have been around since 1828. Today, electric vehicles look and operate differently than they did 194 years ago, however the same idea behind their use and benefits still stands today.
From the period of 1828-1835 the first small scale electric cars were made. Inventors in the United States, Netherlands, and Hungary were building and creating small-scale electric cars, but they did not become popular as horse and carriage was still the main form of transport. It was in 1832 that Robert Anderson out of Scotland invented the first crude electric car, meaning it was powered by non-rechargeable primary cells, but without it being able to be recharged the car was not useful to consumers.
It was not until 1891 that William Morrison from Iowa built the first successful electric car that resembled a horse drawn wagon. Eight years later in 1899, electric cars started to gain popularity with consumers. Electric cars were easy to drive and did not emit steam and gas that smelled making city dwellers and women of that period inclined to drive them. This led to a third of cars on the road from 1900-1912 being electric cars. On account of their popularity and lower energy usage than gas cars in that time, many inventors wanted to join the industry.
In 1901 Thomas Edison was working on creating long-rang batteries for electric cars with the belief that they were a better mode of transportation. Simultaneously, Ferdinand Porsche was working on a hybrid and built the world’s first electric hybrid car. It was called the Lohner-Porsche Mixte, powered by electricity, stored gas, and was equipped with a gas engine.
While Edison and Porsche worked on evolving the electric car, Henry Ford was working on building the gas-run Model T car. The Model T car was a huge success because of its mass production, accessibility to purchase, and affordability. The introduction of the Model T car combined with better roads and the discovery of cheap crude oil led to gas vehicles becoming the standard. From 1920-1935 the demand for electric cars exponentially declines.
Years later, in 1968, gas prices started to rise again, and although there were not a lot of electric cars at that time, interest in them spiked. It was then in 1973 that automakers investigated building electric cars. This led to the invention of the citi car created by Sebring-Vanguard. The citi cars had a range of 50-60 miles and 2,000 cars were sold. Due to the short range of the citi car, interest in electric cars faded again in 1979.
It would not be until 1992 that new federal and state regulations brought new interest to electric cars. Automakers returned to the idea of electric cars and started trying to make electric versions of gasoline cars they already knew consumers liked.
In 1997 Toyota announced the Toyota Prius and released the first mass-produced hybrid car worldwide. The introduction of the Toyota Prius catapulted the electric car industry and interest expanded from just electric cars to electric vehicles (EV).
After this boom in interest in electric vehicles, in 1999, The Department of Energy scientists started working on long range EV batteries. Later, in 2006, a Silicon Valley start-up called Tesla announced they would be making luxury EVs with a range of over 200 miles. This led into a whole new world of EVs by reducing consumer’s range anxiety and opening the market for other automakers, businesses, and governments to join.
From the years of 2009-2013, the Department of Energy (DOE) invested in electric vehicle charging infrastructure for EV owners. During this time, in 2010, the Chevy Bolt was introduced and changed the EV market. It was the first commercially available plug-in hybrid with technology developed by the Department of Energy. After this, the Nissan Leaf launched later that year with zero tailpipe emissions, making more people interested in EVs.
Following the years of science and investigation the Department of Energy put into electric vehicles, in 2013 the DOE found out how to make EV batteries more affordable in turn, making electric vehicles more affordable for consumers. A year later in 2014, there were over 25 options for commercially available EVs.
Now in today’s world, electric vehicles have become a booming market with the federal government rolling out funding and mandates for more EV charging infrastructure and renewable energy.
From their humble start in 1828, electric vehicles have come a long way to become what we know them as today. Maverick Electric Vehicle Services is grateful to be a part of the work done to progress the EV community and is hopeful that all EV progressions made today will be great pieces of history in the future.