Even though electric cars are often dismissed as an inferior method of transport, a genuine alternative to petrol-powered vehicles will eventually be required. While manufacturers are still prioritising the design and development of mainstream models, more and more electric vehicles are starting to attract attention.
In fact, over the past decade or so, an increasing number of impressive electric cars have been released, with consumers coming round to the idea of this eco-friendly option. So what have been some of the most notable moments and landmarks in the historic rise of the electric car?
Back in the early 20th century, electricity was actually the preferred fuel source for several automobiles. But subsequent developments to the internal combustion engine lessened the benefits of electric motors.
As a result, production numbers of gasoline vehicles increased while petrol stations received widespread and rapid expansion. Electric cars cost more to buy, took longer to refuel, and couldn’t go very far, thus faded into obscurity.
It wasn’t until the energy crises of the 1970s and 80s that electric cars started to receive renewed interest. Manufacturers like Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Nissan and Toyota all released battery-powered models in the US, but these didn’t do much to stimulate extensive sales.
21st Century Revival
After Toyota achieved tremendous success with the release of its hybrid Prius in 1997, more automotive brands started to explore the idea of alternative-fuelled vehicles.
The first car to really grab the attention of motorists was the Tesla Roadster, which began development in 2004 but subsequently took four years to be delivered to customers. In addition to impressive performance figures and fantastic styling, the Tesla Roadster became the first all-electric production vehicle to travel more than 200 miles on a single charge. It would then go on to set a world distance record for a production electric car too.
Therefore, it seemed like one of the major stumbling blocks for electric vehicles had been solved and over a short period of time, nearly every major manufacturer introduced their own interpretations.
The Nissan Leaf was the first mass production electric vehicle to be produced by a major manufacturer and received widespread acclaim for its innovative features. Standard models such as the Ford Focus and Volvo C30 also received the electric treatment, while national governments introduced schemes and grants to increase the adoption of plug-in vehicles. What’s more, big cities started to become more accommodating for electric vehicles too with exclusive zero-emission zones and dedicated charging points.
Industry trailblazers Tesla recently announced that it wanted to open up its supercharger patents to boost electric car adoption. And if the company’s recent valuation is anything to go by, the future looks certainly looks bright for Tesla and the electric car.
While batteries, range and performance remain perpetual problems, the combined technological capabilities of the world’s automotive manufacturers is bound to come up with a sustainable solution or two.