Back in the early days of the automobile there were so many ideas and concepts to make their vehicle better and unique versus the next persons. Before the advent of the internal combustion engine, electric cars were among the optimal choice to their steamed powered counterparts, because it was a vehicle that could be turned on and ready to go.
From the late 1890s to the early 1900s, the electric vehicle started to peak in popularity with the advent of the power grid in the US. This enabled many of the consumers to have an easy to drive car and the ability to charge at home. Mostly, electric cars were used as city vehicles because of the limitations of battery technology of the time; it provided a clean and smooth ride for its occupants.
Decline from the Internal Combustion Engine
With the advancement of improving roads connecting to major American cities, there became a need for cars to take advantage of these infrastructures. Electric vehicles tried to rise to the challenge with bigger batteries; however, it ultimately proved to be a failure when compared to a gasoline car. This made the public stigma that the electric car would only be useful in an urban environment because of their low range.
The final nail striking down electric vehicles as a viable option was when the advent of Henry Ford’s mass production assembly line process of gasoline cars, which wiped the notion of buying an electric vehicle. Since the price of these gasoline cars were a fraction of the cost of an electric car, as well as provided better speed and range for the driver. It was a clear winner at the time; the internal combustion engine dominated the car industry from the 1920s till the start of the 1980s.
Gas Shortages and Environmental Concerns
The tail end of the 1900s brought about a revisit to the humble electric engine to power automobiles. With the energy crisis at the time, many people wanted to break away from the use of gasoline and be more environmentally friendly, as it was found that internal combustion engines produced high air pollution which was becoming more apparent in dense urban populations. This brought about the “Clean Air Act,” which mandated the regulation and enforcement of toxins and pollutants being introduced to the environment.
The electric engine was once again needed and the development of a highly efficient battery and engine started again. The automakers began offering electric versions of their vehicles; however, there was lots of debate between lobbyist and government, which hindered the advancement of these types of cars. Instead, during the 1990s, the consumers’ eyes shifted towards the big sports utility vehicle because of the lower gas prices again and massive cargo space. It seemed that the automakers were abandoning the idea of an electric vehicle again, however, the Japanese automaker, Honda, rose to the challenge and became the first to sell an electric/gas powered vehicle (hybrid) in North America, since the early 1900s.
Granted the hybrid vehicle isn’t a true electric vehicle, it did provide a much needed spotlight to push the other automakers into answering back.
With the spotlight brought back towards making a suitable electric vehicle for consumers, there have been many options for the first adopters. CitEcar produces many urban and low speed electric vehicles for the daily commuters. If you’re looking for something a bit sportier, you might want to check out the Tesla Model S, which is in my opinion one of the most premier electric cars to have been built. Although the price point is high ($80,000 with all the upgrades) it is a step in the right direction for future electric cars to come. It drives like a gasoline vehicle, but without the noise, pollution and cost of gas overtime.
The future of the electric vehicle looks bright, I believe technology has caught up to our ideas and it’s just a matter of time till they become adopted by the rest of society!