History Timeline of the Electric Car

Written by: Nicholas Brit
The electric-powered automobiles have a history dating before the introduction of the Ford Model-T gasoline-powered vehicle. Electric cars use electrical energy stored in energy storage batteries or similar storage devices. Electric cars became popular during the late 19th century and late 20th century until the advent of the internal combustion engine and mass production technologies. Over the course of the last century, the electric car became widely debated and kept rising to popularity on several occasions before being squashed by automakers. Today, the electric car has received notable attention from all over the world. Many automobile manufacturers have started to mass-produce plug-in hybrid and electric-powered vehicles as an alternative to skyrocketing gasoline prices. In addition, many governmental bodies have passed legislation mandating the conversion to fuel-efficient designs. The electric-powered car will likely become the forefront of public and private transportation for years to come.

1832-1839: Robert Anderson, a Scottish inventor, constructed the first battery-propelled carriage before the existence of the electric car prototype.

1835: Thomas Davenport, an American inventor, creates the locomotive, also known as the first electric vehicle in the United States.

1859: Gaston Planté, a French physicist, invents the lead-acid battery. The lead-acid battery was a rechargeable storage battery unlike others before it.

1881: Camile Faure improves the rechargeable storage lead-acid battery's ability to supply current. Car manufacturers still use the Faure refined rechargeable lead-acid battery in modern automobiles.

1891 (PDF): William Morrison, Des Moines, Iowa inventor, constructs the first operable electric automobile in the United States.

1893: An electric car exhibition takes place in Chicago, Illinois.

1897 (PDF): New York City introduces the first electric taxis. In addition, the Pope Manufacturing Company in Connecticut increases its status as the first mass-producing American electric car manufacturer.

1899: Thomas Alva Edison pursued his vision on creating the first endurance electric automobile. Unfortunately, Edison abandoned his mission over a decade later, despite improve the former alkaline battery model.

1900: The popularity of the electric car explodes across the United States. In fact, 28 percent of all manufactured cars are powered by electricity. Over one-third of all automobile owners use electric cars in New York City, Chicago, and Boston, Massachusetts.

1908: Henry Ford introduces the first mass-produced gasoline-powered automobile, also known as the Model-T. the mass-produced and gasoline-powered Model T, which will have a profound effect on the U.S. automobile market.

1912: Charles Kettering introduces the first electric car starter, an invention that made gasoline-powered vehicles more appealing to consumers. Kettering's invention helped pave the way towards the electric automobile's demise.

1920s: The electric automobile peters off as a desirable machine. Many scholars attribute the electric car's downfall to numerous factors, including their lack of horsepower, the convenient availability of gasoline, and the demand for vehicles that could travel longer distances.

1966 (PDF): The United States Congress passes a series of bills that recommends the use of electric cars as a viable alternative for reducing air pollution. A public survey reveals that thirty-three million Americans have become interested in owning an electric car.

1970s (PDF): During the 1970s, automobile owners become concerned in owning gasoline-powered vehicles, because of the inflationary period that resulted in the overall increase of oil. Many automobile consumers started looking for electric cars, especially around the peak of the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973.

1972 (PDF): Victor Wouk introduces the first hybrid vehicle for the 1970 Federal Clean Car Incentive Program.

1974 (PDF): Vanguard-Sebring introduces the CitiCar at the Electric Vehicle Symposium located in Washington, D.C. The CitiCar traveled at a high-speed of thirty miles per hour at a range upwards of forty miles in length. The Vanguard-Sebring Company evolved to become the sixth largest automobile manufacturer in the United States before dissolving only several years later.

1975: The United States Postal Service places an order consisting of three hundred and fifty electric jeeps from AM General.

1976: The United States Congress passes the Electric and Hybrid Research, Development, and Demonstration Act as a means of spurring the growth of new electric automobile technologies, including electric-powered motors, electric batteries, and other electric components for hybrid vehicles.

1988 (PDF): Roger Smith, former CEO of General Motors, permits the distribution of funds in an effort to build a practical consumer car. General Motors joined in a partnership with AeroVironment to create the EV1. Unfortunately, the EV1 never lived up to its hype.

1990: California passes the Zero Emission Vehicle Mandate, a lawful provision that requires 2% of all automobiles within the state of California to have zero emissions by 1998.

1998 (PDF): Unfortunately, revisions to this legislation weakened its overall effectiveness.

1997: Toyota introduces the Prius, the world's first mass-produced hybrid car, in Japan. Toyota successfully sold 18,000 Prius vehicles during its first year.

1997 to 2000: Automobile manufacturers begin to introduce their own all-electric cars. Unfortunately, interested people could only lease these vehicles, instead of outright owning them. At the start of the new millennium, the majority of the major automobile manufacturers discontinue their hybrid car programs.

2002 (PDF): General Motors and Daimler-Chrysler sue the California Air Resources Board as a means to repeal the mandated all-electric car conversion legislation passed in 1990. In addition, the Bush Administration advocates the lawsuit.

2003: General Motors ceases its renewal on EV1 automobile leases citing a shortage of repairable parts. In addition, General Motors announces that it will reclaim all EV1 automobiles by at the end of 2004.

2005: Electric car enthusiasts launch a “Don't Crush” campaign to halt the destruction of 78 EV1 automobiles in Burbank, California. The “Don't Crush” demonstration stopped once General Motors removed the electric cars from its facility.

2006: Tesla Motors introduces the Tesla Roadster, an electric sports car, at the International Automobile Show in San Francisco, California. The Tesla Roadster had an asking sticker price of $98,950.

2008 (PDF): Israel announces its support for a project that would encourage the production of electric cars. Better Place, an electric car manufacturer, promotes the support of electric car production in Canada, Japan, Denmark, Australia, and the United States. Gas prices soar passed four dollars a gallon, which drops gasoline-powered automobile sales to its lowest in over a decade. As a result, President Barack Obama launches his campaign supporting the production of plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles by 2015. In addition, a Chinese automobile manufacturer introduces the F3DM, the world's first plug-in hybrid automobile.

2009: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act disburses two billion dollars for the production of electric automobile batteries and its related technologies. In addition, the United States Department of Energy contributes four hundred million dollars to the same cause. Worldwide legislation introduces government-sponsored production of electric-powered and plug-in hybrid cars. Some major automobile manufacturers file for Chapter 1 bankruptcy.

The Future of Electric Cars (PDF): President Barack Obama passes a policy that will require gasoline-powered automobile manufacturers to develop fuel-efficient vehicles. Nissan announces the LEAF, an electric-powered vehicle capable of reaching speeds of more than 90 miles per hour. Other major automobile manufacturers announce their future plans for releasing plug-in and electric-powered vehicles.