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The History of Electric Vehicles



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Electric vehicles (EV's) found their beginnings in the land of Scotland. Robert Anderson is credited with the invention of the first electric carriage between 1832 and 1839.

Christopher Becker a resident of Groningen, Holland built an electric vehicle in 1835 designed by his employer, Professor Stratingh.

Thomas Davenport of America and Robert Davidson of Scotland, working separately, both used non-recharging electric cells for the first time in 1842. Their designs were of a more practical machine.

Range was further increased when Gaston Plante of France invented a more efficient storage battery in 1865.

Camille Faure of France further improved the battery in 1881 providing a much greater range and reliability.

France and England stand as the first countries to encourage their people to actively investigate electric vehicle transportation in the late 1880's.

America became involved with electric vehicles in 1895 when a six passenger wagon was built by William Morrison. In that same year A. L. Ryker built an electric tricycle.

The first commercial application of electric transportation was in 1897 in New York City. A fleet of city taxis manufactured by the Electric Carriage and Wagon Company of Philadelphia, PA. .

1899 and 1900 saw electric vehicles as the top seller over steam or gasoline powered vehicles in the United States. With ranges of 15 to 18 miles and speeds between 12 and 15 miles per hour it was preferred by many city inhabitants. Its operation was simple and handling was smooth. No cranks to start the engine requiring muscle and skill. No long start up time as with the steamers. No gears to shift as with the gas vehicles.

Many electrics were built with the wealthy and prominent in mind. Ornate exteriors and stylish interiors along with special building materials increased the cost two or three times the amount of a basic model.

Electric vehicle production peaked about 1912 and continued to decline in the 1920's. By 1935, electric vehicles were nearly unheard of as personal transportation.

The decline of electric cars would surely be attributed to cheap affordable gasoline; Henry Ford's assembly line techniques and better roads linking cities too far away for an electric to go.

A renewal of interest in EV technology in the 1960's and 70's was a result of high gas emissions, gasoline dependence on foreign countries and the need for alternative fuels.

There were conversions of existing automobiles by the major auto manufacturers as well as private enterprises while others built from the ground up. The focus was on intercity short range driving with slower required speeds. In 1975, the U.S. Postal Service bought 350 mail delivery vans from American Motors Company as part of a test program. The vans had a range of 40 miles at 40 mph with a top speed of 50 mph.

The 1990's and the millennium brought a greater want and need for reduced emissions and escalating fuel prices. Fear of global warming and preserving our diminishing ecology has created new legislation and controls. Some states have passed state regulations requiring "O" emissions.

"Hybrid technologies" joining gas and electricity together seems to be the present track of research for most automobile companies.

Storage battery technologies are increasing the efficiency of EV ranges to over 150 miles at this time.



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