While standing at the gas station pumping gasoline into your car, do you ever wonder about owning an electric car? With gas prices always fluctuating, some feel it makes financial sense to go electric. Some might even wonder how cars that run on gas become so popular. Your gas and oil magazine brings you a short history lesson about gas and electric cars.
Although many, many people tried their hardest for centuries to come up with a self-propelled road vehicle, it was sculpture, painter and inventor Leonardo da Vinci, way back in the 15th century, who designed the first versions of what would become the car. But it wasn’t until the late 19th century when the automobile was produced and took off.
After years of inventors tinkered around the concept of the car, we finally have something real that people could actually use. As it were, during this same time, people were also floating an idea around that electric motors were a possibility. In fact, between gas cars, diesel engines and electric motors, competition would become quite fierce. This was during a time in which we really weren’t concerned about global warming or being green, the most important issue was getting a vehicle you drive around in.
You might be wondering when the first electric car was built. That all depends on the sources you find. The first electric motor was in a small locomotive that used two electromagnets, a pivot and a battery. This happens about 1835. However, this electromagnet proved to be far too expensive to produce at the time so it would take many years until such technology would be more practical.
There were others who were pretty successful in creating electric cars, but none would stick until the latter part of the 19th century. An inventor by the name of Thomas Parker was the person who propelled electric cars into the spotlight. By the early 1900s, the electric car industry was robust and successful. In fact, by 1900, May of the cars driven in New York and Boston were electric.
At this very same time, gasoline-powered cars were smelly and noisy and often very unreliable. To top things off, they had horrible fuel efficiency. But the two thing gas cars had going for them were range and speed. Inventors, even the likes of Thomas Edison, tried to come up with batteries that could extend range and speed up the cars, but it was to no avail.
When Henry Ford introduced his Model T, roads had improved and people wanted to travel farther, so the combustible engine gained momentum and surpassed electric cars in sales and popularity.
The downward trend of electric cars continued until the 1960s when the United States government recommended electric cars as a means of reducing pollution. Poles conducted at the time suggest that millions of Americans held an interest in electric vehicles. But it wasn’t until the 1970s when serious upgrades to the electric car would begin.
Rising Gas Prices
Rising gas prices in the 1970s is the biggest reason for a surge of interest in electric cars. The soaring prices of oil along with the Arab oil embargo renewed interest in electric cars from both consumers and manufacturers. However, only a few electric car manufacturers met with any success and even those were short-lived.
Electric cars were put on the back burner in the 1980s and nothing much was done to promote them. But in 1997, Toyota unveiled the Prius, the world’s first commercially mass-produced hybrid car. Nearly 18,000 units are sold in Japan the first year. By the year 2000, Honda, General Motors, Ford and other vehicle manufacturers break into the hybrid market.
In 2006, Tesla Motors unveiled the sporty Roadster. The Roadster would officially go on sale in 2008 at a base price of just under $100,000. Price aside, the Roadster was a good-looking car with a lot of promise.
Take a good look around when you are out driving, you are seeing more and more hybrid cars on the road all of the time. You might even spot a few Tesla cars as well. The road electric cars have traveled on for years has been pretty bumpy, but with modern crisis like pollution and oil fluctuation, the future of electric cars is looking brighter.