History of electric cars: Where it all started

Fast read

Ever since the mid-nineteenth century, electric vehicles have been on the road. Gas cars became popular in the 1900s because of taxes and the oil industry's expansion. Electric cars returned in the 1970s, but the market was still small. Not until Tesla and Elon Musk rendered electric vehicles mainstream in the twenty-first century.

Electric cars are sold by many companies and will likely be the main way people travel in the future.

The history of electric cars explained

Let’s take a more extensive journey into the history of electric cars. Contrary to popular belief, their story extends far back into the mid-19th century.

Imagine this: in 1828, the inventive mind of Anyos Jedlik, hailing from Hungary, ushered in a groundbreaking moment. He devised an electric motor that had the remarkable capability to power a small moving “car.” We saw an early glimpse into the potential of electric propulsion.

As society transitioned from relying on horse-drawn carriages to embracing automobiles, three competing technologies emerged: petrol, steam engines, and electricity. Yes, you heard that right—electric cars were part of the initial trio, competing for attention and technological evolution.

However, amidst this promising start, early electric cars encountered a significant obstacle. The batteries available during that era lacked reusability. Think about the inconvenience and financial burden—having to replace non-rechargeable batteries frequently.

The limit on electric cars initially made them less practical and affordable. This puts electric cars at a disadvantage when compared to petrol and steam-powered cars.

Electric cars have been around for a long time, but early battery technology made them difficult to use. However, this setback didn’t stop the progress of electric cars. It just showed that we need better technology to overcome these challenges and make them popular again.

two women leaning on electric car
Electric cars have increased in popularity in the 21st century

Electric cars in the 20th century

In 1901, electric cars made up 35% of all cars on the road, while petrol cars only made up 20%. Steam cars filled the rest and had possibly the most significant market share with 45%.

Obviously, with petrol cars, you need petrol, which means oil. Governments liked taxing oil, which helped make petrol the dominant technology of the 20th century.

Then came the oil shock in the 1970s, and electric cars came to the market again. Initially, the product was small and unpopular. It faced little chance of success against the popular petrol car and the profitable oil industry. The oil industry had no real competition and made a lot of money.

Burning fossil fuels adds to CO2 emissions, which is causing global warming.

Elon Musk’s Tesla moved the EV out of the niche market

The car industry has changed a lot because of Tesla models and its work on electric cars. A small market has grown into a rapidly expanding mass market that will change how we travel in the future.

This change was made to tackle two important issues: CO2 emissions and the effect of regular petrol cars on the environment. This change was necessary to tackle these important issues head-on. Elon Musk’s innovative thinking made Tesla realise that depending on fossil fuels for a long time is not sustainable. He predicted a future where gasoline cars could be a problem because of their impact on the environment.

As Tesla gained momentum and success, it catalysed a seismic change across the automotive landscape. Now, almost all major car companies are not only looking into but also creating many different electric car models. Electric vehicles (EVs) are now strong competitors, often surpassing petrol cars in quality, reliability, and performance.

The trend towards electric cars signals a pivotal shift in the industry. During this transition, it is important to focus on managing EV batteries and raw materials in a sustainable way. EVs are cleaner and greener than traditional vehicles, but it’s crucial to responsibly recycle and manage their batteries. If we don’t focus on this aspect, switching from petrol to electric could accidentally create another environmental problem.

Electric vehicles’ success relies on effectively managing their materials and benefits. Proper recycling mechanisms, coupled with responsible sourcing of raw materials, must align with the rapid evolution of EV technology. Innovation and sustainability are important for electric cars to succeed without harming the environment through battery disposal and resource depletion.

In conclusion, the history of electric cars shows a crucial milestone in the quest for sustainable transportation. The success of this transition depends on a comprehensive approach.

This approach should address environmental concerns. These concerns are related to battery technology recycling and resource management. By navigating this path with careful consideration for sustainability, the automotive industry can pave the way for a future where electric cars not only dominate the roads but also contribute to a cleaner, greener planet for generations to come.

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