We’ve all heard the talk about electric vehicles
being the cars of our future. But what most don’t
know is that electric vehicles predate both gas
and diesel powered vehicles.
Right here in Iowa, William Morrison built the
first successful electric car in the country. In
1899, Thomas Edison built an electric vehicle
that used nickel-alkaline batteries.
In 1895 America’s first automobile race took
place sponsored by the Chicago Times-Herald. Of
the six cars entered, two were electric. In 1897
New York City had its first electric taxi fleet.
And in 1899 a Belgian electric race car set a
land-speed record of 68 mph.
Around the turn of the 20th century 40% of all
American automobiles were steam-powered, 38% were
electric, and only 22% were gas-powered. Even
though basic electric cars cost $1,000 in 1900
(around $26,000 today) America was known for it’s
acceptance of electric cars and 33,842 electric
cars were registered.
At that time batteries were not rechargeable and
battery exchanges were established to meet the
needs at a per mile charge. The invention of
rechargeable battery couldn’t save electric cars
Henry Ford with his mass production brought the
cost of his cars down to $440 in 1915 or the
equivalent of $9,500 today. That year electric
cars were selling for $1,750 or $40,000 in today’s
When one looks at all the innovations involving
the gas-powered cars one has to wonder why electrics
are still more expensive and use batteries. After
all, these vehicles have had 112+ years to work
on improving the basic design.
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