The history of the electric car
Did you know that electric cars date back to the early 19th century? Most people think EVs are a recent innovation, but that’s not entirely true. In the 1830s, the Scottish inventor Robert Anderson built an electric carriage powered by non-rechargeable cells and set the wheels in motion for EVs. Towards the end of the century, the American innovator William Morrison built the first working electric car. The years that followed saw EVs rising in popularity throughout the US, and by 1900 over a quarter of new vehicles produced were electrically powered.
Enter one Henry Ford. In 1908, he invented the petrol-powered Model T car, which proved incredibly popular across the United States. Consumers were drawn towards longer distance vehicles and the availability of petrol. And some people were put off electric vehicles by their comparative lack of horsepower. As a result, petrol-driven cars became an almost universal norm in 20th century motoring.
Flash forward to the Oil Shock of the 1970s, and concerns over the rising price of oil-based fuels were widespread. Conversations about the benefits of electric vehicles began to resurface. Two decades later in the 1990s, many major marques produced their first electrically-fuelled models. The first mass-produced EV was technically a hybrid. The Toyota Prius, powered by electricity but with the option of using petrol after a certain point, was brought out in 1997.
Since then, different governments across the world have introduced measures to try and promote the use of electric cars. Brands like Tesla, smart, Renault and Nissan have manufactured sporty, compact and subcompact models into the market, and other companies have since followed suit with all-electric and hybrid models of their own.