During the last decade, the electric car has taken the world by storm. We see them everywhere and there are cars in every price-class, even luxury brands such as Porsche and Lamborghini have more affordable options.
But even though the electric cars as we know them today have only been on the road a short amount of time, their predecessors saw the light of day many years ago.
Over 180 years ago
The first electrically powered car was invented between 1832 and 1839 – a converted horse-drawn carriage with non-rechargeable lead-acid batteries. When it became possible to recharge batteries in the 1860s, further developments on the electric car began, with the goal to replace horse transport.
The first mass production of electric cars began in the United States in the late 1890s, with the purpose of providing modern taxis to the people of New York. Back then, they could already see many of the benefits of the electric cars; they were emission-free, quiet, had no dangerous fuel on board, was much easier to drive and unlike several steam-powered vehicles, the electric cars didn’t have to be warmed up before being used.
Also, they were faster than petrol and steam-powered vehicles. The first cars to reach a speed of over 100 kilometers per hour was electric. That happened in 1899.
Petrol- and steam-powered vehicles took over
As we all know, the electric car didn’t survive for that long back then, mostly because of the batteries being very expensive to produce and because of the short reach of maximum 40 kilometers. They were never good enough to compete with the engines of the petrol and steam-powered vehicles.
The rise of Henry Ford and his assembly-line production of the T-Ford car model made the last of the electric optimism disappear, and the development of the electric car went to sleep, more or less for decades.
A new beginning
A little closer to the millennium, the environmental problems and challenges of private cars rose on the political agenda. They needed a solution for the pollution from gasoline and diesel cars that are still threatening the globe.
The challenges with the electric cars were still the same as 100 years earlier; low range, difficulties with charging and expensive to buy. In order to stimulate technology development, a number of countries adopted favorable schemes and tax cuts for investments and the use of electric cars. This made the development move faster and at the beginning of the 2000s, relatively great progress had been made in the battery department.
The cost of production fell and the opportunities for recharging improved. This, combined with good terms for buying and using by the authorities, led to the increasing sale of electric cars, about ten years after the turn of the millennium. Today, they’re quite common in countries all over the world and can easily be charged at home with a little help from an electrician.