100 Years of Electric Car History

Old Electric Car NPR/Public Domain

History Repeats Itself

While a lot of environmentalists don't like cars, I doubt it's very realistic to expect all of the to disappear any time soon. Vast quantities of cars can be taken out of circulation because most commuting can be done with mass transit, and walking and bikes offer a healthy and green way to move around for lots of trips. But for some things (especially in rural areas), nothing beats the individual car. If only we could make it a lot cleaner... Which is what going back to the electric roots of the car would allow us to do (even moreso once we've cleaned up the electric grid).

Electric Car Timeline NPRNPR/Screen capture
Click the image above to go to the timeline.

Coming Full Circle

This timeline of the 100-year plus history of the electric car shows how despite a promising beginning, the EV technology simply couldn't compete with the internal combustion engine for most of the 20th century. But that's starting to change, as each new generation of electric car has a longer driving range, a faster-charging battery, and a lower cost. This trajectory will at some point cross the rising cost of gasoline thanks to peak oil and global warming problems, and make EVs the obvious choice for the cars that will be left on the road.

Of course, the smart thing to do is not to wait for environmental problems to become worse before transitioning to cleaner ways of getting around: We need to walk, bike, take transit, and use plug-in cars now to get off fossil fuels, not at some distant point in the future. The faster we stop pumping so much CO2 in our planet's atmosphere, the better off we and our kids will be in the long-term.

Old Electric Car NPR/Public Domain


Tags: Electric Cars | Electric Vehicles


treehugger slideshows