Electric Cars Heyday To Today
The Chicago Auto Show was celebrating its 107th anniversary, making it the largest North American auto show.
Visitors to the first Chicago Auto Show in 1901 were introduced to a new mode of transportation. It had rapidly gained popularity over the previous decade. They didn't know that the car would soon replace buggies and horses as the most popular mode of transportation.
The concept of self-propelled vehicles wasn't new. Numerous steam- and gas-powered vehicles were displayed at the Universal Exposition of Paris in 1889, and two electric vehicles were on display at Chicago's World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, in 1893.
Chicago hosted the first automobile race in 1895. However, it wasn't until the " First Annual Automobile Exhibit" held in Chicago in 1901 that cars that were manufactured for sale were displayed.
The same technology that was used 110 years ago to power the vehicles on display at the 2015 auto show is still in use today. Many of the cars displayed in the Chicago Coliseum's 1901 old Chicago Coliseum were not powered only by gasoline, but also by electricity.
The 2015 Auto Show featured two of the most popular cars: the Chevrolet Volt, and the Nissan Leaf. The Chevrolet Volt and other plug-in hybrids have a gasoline engine to supplement the electric drive. After the battery has run out, the gasoline engine kicks in, increasing the driving range. Pure electrics, also known as "EV", are cars that only run on battery power.
Although each hybrid or electric car today is designed to satisfy a specific need, electric cars still enjoy the same popularity as they did 100 years ago.
Once Upon A Time...
The inventions and breakthroughs that led to the creation of the electric car were made in the 17th century. Many of these innovations took place in the United States, including the battery and electric motor. Around the globe, inventors were developing concepts for battery-powered cars in the 1800s. Robert Anderson, a British inventor, was born in Scotland and invented the first electric carriage. However, it wasn't until the late nineteenth century that the first practical electric vehicles were built in France or England by inventors.
William Morrison, a Des Moines, Iowa chemist, created the first electric car to be successful in the United States around 1890 or 1891. This was the World's Fair 1893 electric car. Although the carriage was essentially an electrified wagon, it couldn't travel more than 20 mph. However, this car set the stage for the country's move towards electric-powered cars.
The 1900s Were Electric. (Sort Of)
The horse was still the main mode of transport at the beginning of the 20th century. However, the automobile became more popular as they became more accessible and more affordable, and Americans became more wealthy.
The first cars that were commercially available in 1895 ran on all three power sources: steam, gasoline, and electricity. The start-up times for steam were long and the water tank had to be refilled regularly with water. The smell of gas-powered cars was a problem. They were also noisy and difficult to drive and shift gears.
Electric cars are quieter and more comfortable to drive than traditional cars, making them a popular choice for urban dwellers who want to move around the city. Electric cars accounted for nearly a third of all cars owned by the public during the last ten years of the nineteenth and early 20th century.
Rise and Fall
Many inventors started exploring new ways to improve the technology at that time. Ferdinand Porsche created an electric car in 1898 called the P1; a year later, he developed Semper Vivus which is the first hybrid electric vehicle in the world.
Thomas Edison invented the nickel-iron battery, based on Waldemar Jungner’s nickel-cadmium batteries in 1899. He believed that battery power was superior to technology. In 1914, he partnered with Henry Ford.
Henry Ford's mass-produced Model T made it possible to make gasoline-powered cars more affordable and readily available. Gas-powered cars cost around $600 in 1912, while electric roadsters could sell for upwards of the two-thousand dollars.
At a time when electricity was scarce, gas was inexpensive and filling stations appeared all over the country. Electric vehicles were no longer in fashion after the introduction of the electric starter and improvements to the internal combustion engine.
In the 1960s and 1970s, oil prices rose dramatically. This drove people to look for other sources of power. In 1976, Congress passed a law to support the research and development of electric and hybrid vehicles. Many automakers were encouraged to explore alternative fuel options again after this act was passed. NASA's Lunar Rover electric vehicle became the first human-powered vehicle to travel on the moon in 1971. This put the electric car front and center of the public attention.
Motivated by Environmental Concerns
To reduce America's dependence on foreign oil and improve American health, the federal government took steps to reform the Clean Air Act of 1990 and the Energy Policy Act of 2012. Toxic air emissions were identified as a major threat to America's environment and health. In the 1990s, electric vehicles were refueled in America thanks to a philosophical and financial desire for alternative fuel sources and vehicles that could use them. The development of nickel hydride batteries was the focus of a U.S. Department of Energy (USABC) program. It began in 1991.
Some of the most popular models were modified by automakers to bring electric vehicle performance closer than their gas-powered counterparts. The GM EV1, one of the most popular electric cars at that time, could travel 80 miles and reach speeds of 0-50 mph in just seven seconds.
In the 1990s, gasoline prices were low and America's economic prosperity was continuing. Fuel-efficient vehicles were not a priority for Americans. But that would soon change.
A New Beginning
The true age of electric vehicles began at the beginning of the twenty-first Century with rising gas prices and growing awareness about air pollution.
The world's first mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle, Toyota's Prius was launched in Japan in 1997. The new nickel-metal-hydride battery technology was used. Insight was released by Honda in 1999. The Insight was the 21st century's first hybrid sold in America. The Prius was first released in 2000.
Towards Sustainable Transport
Tesla Motors, a company that aims to make electric cars more affordable, was established in 2003. The Tesla Roadster was produced in 2006 at a starting price of $98,950. The Tesla Roadster could travel more than 200 miles on its own without the need for a charge. In 2010, Tesla was granted a $465 million loan by the U.S. Department of Energy in order to build a California manufacturing plant. Since then, it has been the largest employer in the auto industry in California.
Many large automakers were encouraged by Tesla's success. The first plug-in hybrid commercially available, the Chevy Volt, and the all-electric Nissan Leaf were made available to the public in late 2010.
Consumers have almost sixty choices of plug-in hybrid and electric models today, ranging from the Mercedes-Benz Smart ForTwo microcar to the urban-luxury BMW i3 to the Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid.
While other automakers were racing to produce electric vehicles, consumers still had to answer the one-hundred-year-old question of where to charge their cars on the road.
The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act included measures to modernize the country's infrastructure and increase energy independence. It also funded a national charging infrastructure. Automakers and other businesses started installing chargers all over the country.
The U.S. Energy Department continues its support for research into EV range, power, and energy, as well as cost and affordability, in order to make them more affordable. The Electric Vehicle Everywhere Grand Challenge 2012 initiative aims to make the United States the first country to offer affordable plug-in electric cars for American families.
As gas prices drop and electric car prices rise, EVs will be seen as vehicles through which we can play a part in creating a sustainable future. This includes reducing U.S. dependence upon foreign oil and reducing carbon pollution.
Electric cars are coming back for many reasons. Although electric cars were not invented over 100 years ago, it is easy to see why they are here today.
Let the future speak the truth, and rate each person according to his achievements and work. They have the present; I have the future.