With more and more countries putting an end to gasoline-powered car sales by the end of the next decade or so, it is inevitable that the future of cars is going to be electric, whether you like it or not! But have you ever wondered where electric cars actually started? Well, you may be surprised to find out it wasn't Tesla or Audi and, even more surprisingly, the concept outdates the internal combustion engine... by a long shot!
The first-ever electric car, which actually resembled more of a horse carriage, was invested and built by Robert Anderson in 1839. It worked by attaching a battery to a motor, a similar concept to what we are familiar with today. However, the downside of that old-timer was that the battery wasn't rechargeable and thus was very impractical.
Soon thereafter, though, the first electric train was invented and actually worked rather well. But this causes a huge uprising amongst coal workers who were fearful of losing their jobs and livelihoods. Their protest was ultimately successful, and coal and steam continued to rule the transportation industry. Therefore, when the first cars were invented, they too ran on steam, which ultimately lead to the invention of the internal combustion-powered car.
But, the idea of an electric-powered car wasn't necessarily scrapped. As battery technology improved, so did the interest increase amongst EV's. The first rechargeable batteries were invented in the mid-1800s, but it wasn't until 1894 that the first electric car with a rechargeable battery was patented by William Morrison. It featured a 4hp motor and could reach a top speed of 20mph, but the car would have to be recharged every 50 miles.
Towards the late 1890s, it looked as though the future of the automotive industry would be fully electric. By this time, most cars in Paris and New York, including public transport taxi's were all-electric. But then a dude by the name of Henry Ford changed the game entirely with the introduction of the Model T.
Although most people favoured electric cars as they were far quieter, the Ford Model T was up to 10 times cheaper to buy than the average electric car, and this was the first car that was in reach for the average person to afford.
The Model T was by no means perfect. It was difficult and cumbersome to drive, and it had a crank start which, if not used correctly, could burn out the ignition system. Plus, if you got it wrong, it could break your arm, which actually frightened people at the time. But, when the electric starter was invented, the internal combustion engine cars dominated!
Although car companies still made attempts to redesign the electric car over the decades to follow, they always seemed to run into more and more problems. These included things like weight, drivable distance, recharge times and manufacturing costs.
As time went on, battery technology drastically improved and the costs involved lowered significantly. That, combined with increases in carbon taxes for both the consumer and manufacturer, it only made sense that more research and development was required, and then implemented, into the manufacturing of electric cars.
Take a look at the video below by the YouTube channel, Ideal Cars, on The History Of The Modern Electric Car Revolution.
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