As many of you know, I enjoy looking back at electric car history. Electric cars, technically, date back to the early 1800s. It is expected the first land vehicle steered using a wheel was an electric car (in 1890–1891). Regenerative braking was invented and implemented before 1900! In the first known auto race, an electric car won (in 1895). The first US car dealer only sold electric cars (again, in 1895). The first car with power steering was an electric car (built in 1897). Dr. Ferdinand Porsche’s first car was an electric car (built in 1898 when he was 23 years old and Porsche definitely was not a household name). In 1900, 38% of US automobiles were electric.
But then things changed… gasoline cars got better (for example, through the use of an electric starter) and battery technology remained limiting — preventing electric cars from developing very good driving range, charging quickly, etc. As we all know, gasoline cars took over. It wasn’t really until the late 1900s/early 2000s that the development of lithium-ion battery technology enabled the current EV revolution. Tesla Motors CTO JB Straubel recently discussed this (and plenty of other matters) during a presentation at the University of Nevada. It’s a pretty fascinating presentation, and I learned a few things, so I encourage you to watch it:
In 2014, the electric car market reached 740,000 units sold. This year (2015), it has passed 1 million. The market is maturing quickly, but it is still a tiny portion of the overall car market. That is expected to change as more and more people become aware that electric cars are more convenient and more fun than gasoline cars, while also having several other benefits. I’m convinced they are the future… and for some of us, the present! JB clearly is as well. We’ll see.