The History of the Electric Vehicle

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The electric vehicle, or EV for short, has a long and interesting history, dating back to 1828 when electric vehicles were first invented. However, it is only in the last two decades that electric vehicles have gained rapid popularity. 

A magnitude of reasons has facilitated the recent growth of the electric vehicle, such as the increased awareness of climate change, technological advancements, and the rise of big names in the electric vehicle industry.

This blog post will provide a comprehensive history of electric vehicles from 1828 to 2022, so you can understand how this form of transport has grown to where it is today.

What Is An Electric Vehicle?

An electric vehicle is a type of transportation that runs on electricity. In the industry, there are three types of electric vehicles:

  • Full electric vehicles: These vehicles are powered by electric motors and batteries.
  • Hybrid electric vehicles: These vehicles have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor. The electric motor helps to power the car at low speeds and when the vehicle is stopped, like in traffic.
  • Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles: These are similar to hybrid electric vehicles but can also be plugged into electric power sources to charge.

The electric engine is powered by an electric current produced from the battery (or batteries). This eliminates the need for a gasoline engine and therefore does not need gasoline to power the car. 

Why Are Electric Vehicles Important? 

Electric vehicles are important because they provide a cleaner and more efficient alternative to gasoline-powered cars. They are known to improve the air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which reduces global warming and climate change.

Electric vehicles also help decrease electric pollution by reducing the amount of waste produced. This is why electric vehicles have gained rapid popularity since the 2000s and, by 2030, it is expected that electric cars will make up about one-third of electric car sales.

In addition to this, electric vehicles are becoming more affordable and accessible to the average person, therefore becoming a dominant force in the transportation industry.

What Are Some Big Names in The Electric Vehicle Industry?

The electric vehicle industry has seen some of the biggest electric vehicles come into the market. Tesla, Nissan, and Volkswagen are just some of the big electric car manufacturers making electric cars for a while now. Not to mention, many other well-known car companies like Ford and Toyota are also starting to produce electric vehicle models. 

The History of the Electric Vehicle 1

Breaking Down the History: A Comprehensive Guide from 1828 to 2022

1828 – Invention of the Electric Motor

The electric vehicle was first invented in 1828 by Hungarian inventor Ányos Jedlik. He developed the motor using an electric current from a battery to power an electric train.

1832 – First Small-Scale Electric Vehicle Produced

In 1832, William Morrison of Scotland produced the first electric vehicle. It was a small-scale electric car that could only travel for a distance of about 12 miles on one charge.

1881 – Electric Trams Introduced

In 1881, electric trams were introduced in the city of Berlin. These electric trams ran on overhead wires and could travel up to 16 miles per hour.

1889 – Electric Vehicles Hit US Market

In 1889, electric vehicles were brought to the US market by William Morrison. Morrison first encountered electric cars in Europe and noticed their popularity, deciding to introduce the technology to US consumers. This was a defining moment in the electric vehicle boom that was to come in the early 1900s.

1900 – Electric Vehicle Increase in Popularity

The electric vehicle boom started in the early 1900s and lasted until around 1920. This was when electric vehicles became more popular than gasoline-powered cars.

The main reason for this is that electric vehicles were more affordable and required less maintenance than gasoline cars. In addition, electric vehicles were quieter and cleaner, so electric cars became the preferred mode of transport for women.

1901 – First Hybrid Car Invented

In 1901, a Canadian electric car manufacturer named Henry Seth Taylor produced the first hybrid electric vehicle. This electric car was powered by both gas and batteries.

1908 – Ford Model T Introduced

In 1908, Henry Ford introduced the Model T electric car. The electric vehicle was a great success as it offered an alternative to gasoline-powered cars at a lower price point than people could afford. 

1909 – Electric Vehicles Take Up to One-Third of US Market Share

By 1909, electric vehicles took up to one-third of the market share in the USA due to their growing popularity.

1920 – Electric Vehicle Boom Ends

The electric vehicle boom ended in 1920 when the cost of gasoline dropped, and electric vehicles became more expensive to produce than gasoline cars. In addition, the rise of the automobile industry led to a decrease in demand for electric vehicles.

Many electric vehicle companies stopped producing electric cars and switched over to gasoline-powered cars. This led many electric car manufacturers out of business as they could not compete with the automobile industry.

1947 – First Mass Produced Electric Car Introduced

In 1947, electric vehicles were reintroduced to the market by Henry Ford’s son Edsel and Ford Motor Company. The electric car was named “Edsel” after its creator and, sitting at an affordable price point at $650 per vehicle.

However, the Edsel never gained much attention and failed to compete with the more popular gasoline cars.

1971: NASA’s Electric Lunar Rover Lands on the Moon

In 1971, electric vehicles came back when NASA’s electric Lunar Rover was sent to land on the Moon. This electric rover ran on solar energy and travelled up to a distance of 400 miles.

This was a key point in laying the foundation for the comeback of the electric vehicle, as NASA’s Lunar Rover provided some essential market exposure.

1973: New Generation of Electric Vehicles Ushered In

In 1973, electric vehicles were reintroduced to the market by General Motors with their electric car model, the EV-01. The EV-01 was a small two-seater electric car that ran on lead-acid batteries.

1975: Sebring-Vanguard becomes sixth-largest automaker off the back of the CitiCar

In 1975, electric car manufacturer Sebring-Vanguard became the sixth largest automaker in the USA due to their electric car model, the CitiCar.

The CitiCar was a small two-seater electric car that ran on lead-acid batteries and travelled up to a distance of 40 miles on a single charge.

This electric car was popular with commuters who didn’t need to travel far distances regularly and wanted an electric vehicle that wouldn’t cost them much money in maintenance costs or gasoline charges. However, the small lift in growth for electric vehicles would die off in 1979.

1979 – Electric Vehicle Interest Dies Off

As electric cars became more popular, the market demand for electric vehicles grew. However, in 1979 this growth would die off as electric car manufacturers could not keep up with the increasing demands of the consumers.

In addition, gasoline prices decreased, which made electric cars less affordable compared to gasoline-powered cars.

1996 – EV1 Produced

In 1996, General Motors produced its electric car model, the EV-01.

The EV-01 was a small two-seater electric car that ran on lead-acid batteries and travelled up to a distance of 40 miles on a single charge.

This electric vehicle became popular with commuters who didn’t need to travel far distances regularly and wanted an electric car that wouldn’t cost them much money in maintenance costs or gasoline charges.

However, the EV-01 was only leased to consumers and not sold, which limited its market exposure.

1997 – First Mass-Produced Hybrid Car

In 1997 electric car manufacturer Honda released their electric car model, the Insight.

The Insight was a two-door hatchback electric vehicle that ran on an electric battery and gasoline fuel source. 

The hybrid electric vehicle became popular with eco-conscious consumers who wanted to reduce their carbon footprint while still using gasoline cars as they were more affordable in comparison to electric cars.

1998 – Toyota Prius Introduced

In 1998 electric car manufacturer Toyota released their electric vehicle, the Prius.

The Prius was a four-door electric hybrid car that ran on an electric battery and gasoline fuel source.

This electric vehicle became popular with eco-conscious consumers who wanted to reduce their carbon footprint while still using gasoline cars as they were more affordable than electric cars.

The History of the Electric Vehicle 2

2000 – George W Bush Promotes Use of Electric Vehicles

In 2000, electric vehicles received a boost in popularity when then-President George W. Bush announced the “FreedomCAR and Fuel Partnership” which aimed to increase the use of electric vehicles.

This partnership provided research and development funding for electric vehicle manufacturers and tax credits for consumers who purchased electric vehicles.

2006 – Tesla Announces Production of Luxury Electric Vehicle

In 2006 electric car manufacturer Tesla announced its plans to produce a luxury electric vehicle. This electric vehicle, the Tesla Roadster, would be the first electric sports car to travel up to 245 miles on a single charge. 

The Tesla Roadster became popular with eco-conscious consumers who wanted a luxury electric vehicle that didn’t sacrifice performance. This was a big shift in the image for the industry, which was previously seen as a vehicle for commuters and not recreational car enthusiasts

2008 – Tesla Roadster Produced

In 2008 electric car manufacturer Tesla produced their electric sports car, the Roadster.

2011 – Nissan LEAF Released

In 2011, Nissan released their electric car model, the LEAF. The Leaf was a five-door electric hatchback that ran on an electric battery and could travel up to 100 miles on a single charge.

This electric car became popular with consumers who wanted an electric car that could travel long distances without recharging.

2013 – Costs to Produce Electric Batteries Drop

Due to improved electric battery technology and a mining boom in precious metals used in electric cars, manufacturers could produce electric vehicles at a lower cost than ever before.

This made electric cars more affordable for consumers and increased their popularity.

2016 – Norway Backs Electric Vehicle’s Growth

In 2016 Norway led the world to become the first country to have 5% of all registered cars as plug-in electric models.

The government supported this growth, which offered a number of incentives for citizens to purchase electric vehicles, such as tax exemptions and charging infrastructure investments.

2018 – Plug-In Electric Vehicles Skyrockets 

In 2018 electric car sales reached a new record high. The plug-in electric car segment represented just about 1 out of every 250 motor vehicles on the world’s roads at the end of 2018.

This was largely due to the decreasing cost of electric batteries, the increasing availability of charging infrastructure, and the growing popularity of electric vehicles among consumers. 

2020 – Tesla Model Y Released

In 2020 electric car manufacturer Tesla released their electric SUV model, the Model Y.

The Tesla Model Y was an electric battery-powered SUV that could travel up to 316 miles on a single charge.

This electric vehicle became popular with consumers who wanted an electric vehicle that had the performance of a sports car but also offered the practicality of an SUV.

2021 – The Future of Electric Vehicles

The industry continues to grow due to the decreasing price of electric batteries and government efforts to increase the accessibility of electric vehicles. Therefore making electric vehicles more affordable than ever before for consumers.

As electric vehicles become cheaper and more accessible, electric vehicle sales will likely continue to grow, and electric vehicles will become the dominant form of transportation globally.

Conclusion

Electric vehicles have come a long way in the past few years. With decreasing prices of electric batteries, growing accessibility to charging infrastructure, and increasing popularity among consumers, it is likely that electric vehicles will become the dominant form of transportation in the world.

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