Short History of Electric Vehicles - Part 1 | EV

My friends would kill me if I said I don’t talk much of Tesla. Well here’s to more. Tesla is a Clean Energy Solution company. It has got Electric Vehicles, Solar Panels & Battery Storage. Their aim is – To Accelerate the World’s Transition to Sustainable Energy. But before I go on explaining why I love Tesla & Why we need them here, let's take a short look at the history of EVs & the rise of Tesla.

Electric Vehicles aren’t new. Yes, you may be surprised. We had electric vehicles before Internal Combustion Vehicles took over. We had EVs in the 1800s. Though useful EVs began appearing in the mid-1800s. It’s hard to pinpoint the inventor of the first EV. It was through a series of inventions in batteries and motors.

US Department of Energy states that - In the early part of the century, innovators in Hungary, the Netherlands, and the United States -- including a blacksmith from Vermont -- began toying with the concept of a battery-powered vehicle and created some of the first small-scale electric cars. And while Robert Anderson, a British inventor, developed the first crude electric carriage around this same time, it wasn’t until the second half of the 19th century that French and English inventors built some of the first practical electric cars. In the U.S.A, the first successful electric car made its debut around 1890 thanks to William Morrison, a chemist who lived in Des Moines, Iowa. His six-passenger vehicle capable of a top speed of 14 miles per hour was little more than an electrified wagon, but it helped spark an interest in electric vehicles.

Even Porsche’s first car was Electric. The Porsche P1, otherwise known as the Egger-Lohner electric vehicle, C. 2 Phaeton model(SEO Image), designed by Ferdinand Porsche.

Even EV Charging stations were being planned.

But EVs didn't take off at that time. They disappeared. For a variety of reasons. Worldwide discovery of petroleum, not enough advancement in battery technology, range issues with EVs. Gasoline (Petrol) provided ease of going long distances. And Henry Ford mass-produced Model T, making it cheap and affordable. Some still tried for innovating EVs, but at that time couldn't make it.

Electric vehicles, once again, started getting attention in the world during early 1970s in the US amid rising fuel prices & shortage of fuel due to 1973 Arab Oil Embargo. Going to the 1990s, rising environmental concerns reignited interest in EVs.

General Motors (GM) introduced the EV1 car near 1996. Used 16.5–18.7 kWh lead-acid, later versions had 26.4 kWh Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH).

Corey Singleton writes - "In order to comply with the law (and continue selling cars), GM began to lease EV1s to customers in California. As word spread about the new technology and demand grew, the EV1 was made available across the United States. Despite short range and a poor network of electric charging stations, people fell in love with the futuristic little car.
After just a few years of offering the EV1, however, GM found that the car had an extremely low profit margin when compared with conventional gasoline-powered vehicles. Replacement parts were expensive too and GM didn’t want to support the EV1 forever. Together with other US automotive manufacturers, GM argued that the Zero Emissions laws were unrealistic and lobbied to have the law rescinded. Immediately after repealing the law, GM brought production of the EV1 to a screeching halt. They even went so far as to recall the vehicles that had been previously leased and took them to the desert to be demolished. The spirits of everyone that had leased an EV1 were crushed along with the car."

Even though the car had an 80-mile range, it was only popular among the owners. GM took the unforgivable step by taking them from the owners and crushed almost all EV1s(with a couple of left for universities to study, but disabled).

Then, Toyota Prius, a hybrid vehicle went into production in 1997 & made available in Japan. It got available worldwide in 2001. It was taunted as the most fuel-efficient vehicle. Though its all-electric range was small but good enough for running errands like picking up grocery & stuff. Till 2017, it made 6.1 million in sales.

After mercilessly killing EV1, GM introduced a Hybrid named Volt. It's 2nd Gen model had an all-electric range of nearly 85km. But GM put an end to its production in 2019.

Nissan Leaf, an all-electric vehicle, launched in 2010 had some impressive sales too, having a range of 117km to 243km in newer versions.

But all these didn't give a push to EVs in the way Tesla has given. And there's a reason for that. Though they all had an impressive start, the companies didn't aim at going Electric. These were mainly introduced to comply with newer emission norms in different places. These were still not superior to the comparable ICEs (Internal Combustion Engine). None had any revolutionary tech, none proved that EVs can be S3XY. None proved that EVs can be better than ICE. That's where the rise of Tesla began.

You may be thinking... What did Tesla do so special that others didn't? In my very next short blog I will try to explain that. I will also explain why EVs are better than ICE vehicles.

Signing off...

Nikhil Chaudhary


Tesla Club India

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