When will Ford bring out more electric cars?

Electric vehicles / Part 1: A look into the past

In 1900 they made electric cars about a third of all vehicles on US roads - and then almost disappeared when gasoline-powered models took over. Decades later, technological advances and environmental concerns fueled its gradual revival, which is no longer so gradual: by 2040, Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that more than half of all new cars worldwide will be battery-powered. Here's a look back at the evolution of the once hot thing, which originated more than 170 years ago.

The 19th century

Inventors in several countries began experimenting with battery-powered vehicles in the early 19th century. Robert Anderson in Great Britain is credited with developing the first electric carriage around 1832 - half a century before the invention of the gasoline-powered automobile. William Morrison, an Iowa chemist, demonstrated the first such model in the United States around 1890, basically an electrified car. On April 29, 1899, the Belgian racing car driver Camille Jenatzy was the first to drive faster than 100 kilometers per hour in a self-developed electric vehicle called La Jamais Contente (Never satisfied). Towards the end of the century, electric taxis became very popular in cities. Unfortunately, they were involved in the first recorded death in a US motor vehicle when Henry Bliss was hit by an electric New York taxi on September 13, 1899.


About a third of all vehicles on US roads are electric, powered by a network of charging stations. The automakers market the cars to women and embellish them with fancy upholstery, flower vases, clocks, and even makeup kits. Companies praise them as being quieter, cleaner, and easier to use than gasoline models. Henry Ford and Thomas Edison are working on a "cheap and workable" electric car that will "go 100 miles," Ford told reporters in 1914, but they eventually gave up. Ferdinand Porsche - who developed his first car, the electric P1, at the end of the last century - creates the world's first gasoline and battery-powered hybrid.

1920s - 1960s

The popularity of electric vehicles is declining due to the demand for the mass-produced Ford Model T and other gasoline-powered vehicles, as well as the proliferation of self-starters introduced in 1912 to replace those unwieldy hand cranks that required a lot of muscle power. Few battery-powered cars are left on the road in the early 1930s.

A new use emerged in 1954 when Lektro introduced one of the first commercial electric golf carts. 1959 modified the National Union Electric Corp. 100 Renault Dauphines for battery operation; the new versions are called Henney Kilowatts. Only 47 are ordered, mostly from electricity suppliers. In the 1960s, other companies, including General Motors and American Motors, began producing concept models in response to growing public, state and local governments' concerns about air pollution.

1970s - 1980s

In 1971 and 1972, battery power received a promotional impulse when the world watched the NASA electric lunar vehicle - designed and built by Boeing and GM - jump around on the moon. Rising gasoline prices later that decade prompt automakers and the US Department of Energy to research alternative fuels, with GM developing a prototype urban electric car in 1973 and Sebring-Vanguard launching its CitiCar. But limited range and performance problems hinder broad acceptance, which is what drives work on battery technology.


The tightening of emissions regulations is causing car companies to increasingly focus on alternative fuel vehicles. 1997 GM introduces the EV1, manufactures more than 1,000 of the slim two-seater and leases them as a market study to customers in California and the Southwest. The first mass-produced hybrids are also on sale - Toyota's Prius and Honda's Insight - and Nissan introduces its Altra EV minivan that runs on lithium-ion batteries (the same type that was later used in smartphones and Tesla Vehicles should be used). Nissan produces an estimated 200 Altra EVs, with the first models going to utility companies - reminiscent of the Henney Kilowatt.


Though the drivers love them, GM will - literally - destroy most EV1s when their leases expire, and the market study ends in 2003. The saga is featured in the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?" held. 2003 is also the year Marc Tarpenning and Martin Eberhard founded Tesla Motors. PayPal co-founder Elon Musk leads an initial $ 7.5 million investment and becomes CEO in 2004. (Musk tweeted in 2017 that the demolition of GM cars sparked his interest in an electric vehicle company). Tesla launches roadster sports car in 2008; it is the first production EV to use lithium-ion battery cells.


Nissan’s Leaf Goes on Sale in 2010; it will become the best-selling electric car in the world. Tesla adds the Model S sedan, Model X SUV, and the lower-priced Model 3. Musk also announces plans to build an electric semi-truck to compete with hauliers from companies like Daimler, the luxury Mercedes-Benz company, and China's BYD, backed by Warren Buffett.

China's focus on reducing smog and oil imports makes the country the world's largest market for electric vehicles, causing hundreds of local manufacturers and startups to compete for shares, including XPeng Motors and SAIC Motor. Based on the La Jamais Contente speed record from 1899, the I.D. R. from Volkswagen set a new record for the centenary Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in June 2018: 12.42 miles in 7 minutes, 57.148 seconds. (In 1916, the winning time was 20 minutes and 55.6 seconds).

A quick look into the future

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, more than 230 battery-powered vehicles will be available worldwide by 2021, compared to 179 at the end of 2018. These include SUVs - such as the e-tron from Audi and the I-Pace from Jaguar - as well as sports cars and pickups like the Rivian Be R1T. By 2024, the BNEF estimates US sales will exceed 1 million, 10 times the total of 104,000 in 2017, and shipments in China will exceed 3 million. The main reasons for the increase? Regulations on air quality and the environment, consumer demand and cheaper batteries.

And when you consider everything with Robert Anderson's 1832 electric car began, the heated debate about e-mobility doesn't seem so heated anymore.

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