The big automobile news today is an announcement about the new Nissan LEAF, a fully electric car that is ready to go mass market in an affordable way. Reporters are calling it the dawning of the electric vehicle era. The fact is, it dawned 100 years ago, then was promptly stuffed in a dark closet.
The early electric car boom was around 1900. At that time, there were electric taxis on the streets of New York, and on the roads across america. 28% of automobiles manufactured were completely electric-powered. In the big cities of Chicago, Boston, and New York, one third of all cars were running on batteries.
Kind of like the cars themselves, it was a short ride. in 1912, they added an electric starter to the new and very popular Ford cars which made them much more appealing. Gas cars were now easier to use, could travel longer distances, and the gasoline flowed like water. (actually, gasoline still flows like fresh water… both becoming more expensive and harder to find) By 1920, the production of the electric car had dropped off the map.
Bonus Fact: in 2007, there was an estimated 56 thousand electric vehicles in the US. Total. As in, including-all-previous-years total. In just 2007 alone, they sold 61 thousand Cadillac Escalades, the gas-guzzling “luxury SUV”. On the bright side, with the growing obesity issue, people look smaller when they lean on thier giant cars.