How Cell Phones Enabled The EV Revolution

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.

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  • john

    According to one set of figures automobile sales in the USA were 17 million in 2015
    Last year BEV sales were 71000.
    If BEV cars have exponential sales growth they are only 8 doublings away from 100% of 2015 market.
    Realistically 7 doublings is 50% of 2015 vehicle sales, however a close look at the actual segment for small to medium cars the number of doublings to achieve 50% i feel would be significantly lower in the 4,000,000 area which will come relatively early after 2020.
    I have assumed 4 million do not have the data.
    So my summation is that in their segment pure electric cars are going to dominate.
    Tesla will be one of many, and for every remembered, as the company that awoke a sleeping giant.
    As a side note I ordered the Leaf in Australia by ringing the national sales manager of Nisson and told him to put my name down for a Leaf. His reply to me was ” What is a Leaf I have never heard of it”.
    About 12 months later i received my conformation email with the offered price of $54,000 AU at the time the $AU was near parity to the $US i replied to old mate the National Sales Manager in person “Why would i pay $54 K when i can buy it for $32,000 AU in the USA in Europe or Japan”.
    They front end loaded the sales price and lost the first sale from the bloke, who told them they were going to sell it.
    However the $20 K BEV vehicle is slotted in to be under my house post 2020.

  • Kenton Mann

    Hydrogen has only just getting started. Its the future the HYDROGEN society.

    • jim jam

      But not the hydrogen car.

      In fact hydrogen, is struggling to compete with small ferry and smaller Vs battery.

      The main issue is a there is no money for a hydrogen distribution network.

      You can’t get it from hydrogen sales as the there isn’t enough demand for hydrogen made from natural gas (because it’s it’s effectly a fossil fuel to those off a green perspective and more expensive than natural gas and petrol for those off a money saving perspective)

      You can’t get it from hydrogen from electric , as it’s expensive to start with and the natural gas grid can buy, transport and sell it at cost to Thier customers just to green Thier grid.(and even at 10% that a lot a hydrogen they could buy)

  • Joe Saldarelli

    Big auto is not pushing EV’s because hardly anyone wants an EV. Why bother with the hassle of charging an EV and range anxiety concerns when gas vehicles are so effective and efficient and convenient.

    • Ryan Tomasetti

      this comment not aging well

  • Vic

    The future of cars is electric, fuel cell electric that is. Why?

    1. Refuel in same time as gas car and 6-10 times faster than batteries; like 3 minutes vs 20 min (if you have access to fancy charger, and just 80% of battery) or even hours.
    2. Longer range.
    3. No loss of power like batteries when they are 50% empty.
    4. Much lighter.
    5. If the grid goes down no battery car can recharge, with fuel cells a diesel generator will activate pumps.
    6. Hydrogen can be used as storage when windmills, solar, etc produce more electricity than is consumed. To store in batteries would be crazily expensive. Yes, to use electricity to produce hydrogen to produce electricity is not the most technically efficient but is the most practical.
    7. for the same storage of energy the Tesla batteries weigh more than 20 times more than hydrogen fuel tank.
    8. Yes, there are few hydrogen gas stations and they are expensive, that is a temporary problem, just like when gasoline cars started, they had few gas stations.

    Even for small vehicles batteries will not work because fuel cell a better option. That is why Amazon, Wallmart, Toyota, etc., are ditching their electrical forklifts for fuel cell powered ones.
    Tesla battery cars will flop. Musk should play smart and start to produce fuel cell electric cars too.

    So, clean tecnica can push batteries, although I believe will flop, but nothing stops you from pushing fuel cells too, or even solar panels capable of recharging Tesla’s batteries as they are driven or parked (I know, now is not possible but perhaps someone develops such solal panel)

    I believe we should care about the cleanes energy possible and not wed ourselves “till death do us part” to Elon Musk, or anyone else.

    Electric yes!, battery electrics, as they are now, are a eco-marketing-political fad.

  • SloopJB

    Zach, I see I’ve been blocked (as spam?) on CleanTechnica for pointing out a case of blatant Tesla snobbism. By a female I’ve never seen here before.. I’ve been commenting here for years, 99% pro-Tesla and pro-Elon. Isn’t this a bit over-the top?
    sorry for using this site couldn’t find another way to contact you.