The History of the Electric Car

The History of the Electric Car

09 Oct

The History of the Electric Car

The electric car has taken over headlines in the past decade, but this is just a rise in popularity – not a show of something new. In fact, the electric car was introduced over 100 years ago and has a complex history of ups and downs. At Mr. Electric of Atlanta, we usually offer an electric vehicle charger installation, but this article is just a primer on the history of the electric car. If you are looking for an electric vehicle charger installation, replacement, or repair, then feel free to call Mr. Electric of Atlanta to speak with a live representative. That said, let’s roll.

Introducing the Electric Car

In order to pinpoint the date of the invention of the electric car, we would have to define what we mean by electric car. The concept of an electric vehicle dates as far back as the early 1800s when innovators in Hungary, the Netherlands, and the United States created small-scale electric vehicles. It was not until the second half of the 19th century that inventors built practical electric vehicles.

In 1890, William Morrison debuted his six-passenger electric vehicle, which was more like an electrified wagon with a top speed of 14 miles per hour. Still, it sparked interest in electric vehicles. By 1900, electric cars accounted for a third of all vehicles on the road. So, why do they make up only around 5 percent of new vehicle sales now?

The Early Challenges

Electric vehicles had an advantage over steam- and gasoline-powered vehicles around the late 19th century and the first several years of the 20th century. Steam power was common in trains, but the 45-minute startup time made steam-powered cars impractical. Gasoline-powered cars had promise but needed to be hand cranked and drivers had to manually change gears. They were also noisy, and people were not happy with the pollution. So, electric cars enjoyed their heyday for a little while.

Henry Ford’s mass-produced Model T was introduced in 1908 and made gas-powered cars widely available and affordable. Electric cars costed over twice as much as the Model T. Gas-powered cars enjoyed an extra boost once the electric starter was invented, eliminating the hand crank. By the 1920s, Texas crude oil became cheap and readily available even in rural America while electricity was still concentrated in big cities. Electric vehicles all but disappeared by the mid-1930s.

Electric Vehicle Charger Installation in Atlanta

Gas Prices and Pollution

For much of the 20th century, gasoline-powered cars dominated the roads. However, electric cars saw growing interest during times when gas prices soared, such as during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The 1990s saw federal and state legislation tackling the pollution problem. The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendment and the 1992 Energy Policy Act renewed interest in electric cars. In 2000, the Toyota Prius, the world’s first mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle, was released worldwide. Since then, companies ranging from Nissan and Chevy to Tesla and BMW began rolling out electric vehicles, giving consumers tens of options when choosing an electric car.