History of the electric vehicle

History of the electric vehicle

Is the electric car the innovative, high-tech new baby brother of the conventional car with its internal combustion engine?

Most people assume it is, but nothing could be further from the truth. The history of the electric car goes back way further than we think... 100 years ago, there were already thousands of electric cars on the road all over the world. The invention of the first EV model is attributed to several different people:

  • In 1828, the Hungarian Anyos Jedlik developed a small car powered by a new electric motor.
  • In 1834, Thomas Davenport and his wife Emily built a similar machine that ran on a short, round, electric track for commercial purposes.
  • In the same year, the Groningen-based Stratingh and his assistant Becker also created a small electric car powered by non-rechargeable electrical elements.
  • The first practical, rechargeable electric battery was not developed until 1859.

Stratingh already had high expectations in 1898: “It is foreseeable that the vehicle of the future will mainly be driven by electric power. Electric cars are mechanically more reliable and much more comfortable than cars with internal combustion engines. The car does not shake as much, makes much less noise and the occupants are not troubled by exhaust emissions. In addition, there is no need to change gear in electric cars and they are faster than petrol-powered cars”, Stratingh claimed.

In 1897, the first experiments were carried out using electric cars as taxis in New York. In that same year, Pope Manufacturing Company became the first major manufacturer of EVs.

100 km/h speed barrier broken for the first time, by a Belgian in an electric car!

The Belgian racing car driver Camille Jenatzy was the first person to break the 100 km/h speed barrier. In doing so, he broke the world land speed record. He achieved this in an electrically powered rocket car called ‘Jamais Contente’, driving at no less than 105.88 km/h on 29 April 1899. The first EVs that could exceed 100 km/h were therefore produced at the beginning of the 20th century.

Decrease in the success of EVs due to the economic crisis in 1907, revival due to the oil crisis in 1973

The popularity of electric vehicles has varied over the years. Despite their success in the early 20th century, interest in electric cars diminished due to the panic caused by the economic crisis of 1907. By 1912, there were no more EVs on the road and major manufacturers had to close their doors, giving cars with internal combustion engines the upper hand.

Fuel prices rose dramatically in 1973, leading to the oil crisis that same year, which in turn resulted in a renewed interest in EVs. In the 1990s, the major manufacturers Toyota and General Motors developed various electric cars and production has continued to increase steadily since then.

Lithium-ion battery

At the beginning of the 21st century, the electric car was given a boost with the arrival of the lithium-ion battery. Detroit Electric, which closed its doors in 1939, opened again in 2008 to produce electric cars in conjunction with the Malaysian company Proton. The electric car was back.

EVs in the 21st century

A fully-fledged competitor for conventional cars gradually found its way onto the market. In 2008, the fully electric Tesla Roadster went into production. Since 2010, a new generation of electric cars has emerged. Tesla Motors started selling electric sports cars on a large scale. Renault and Nissan launched smaller electric city cars. BMW focused on premium city cars with its i-range. New electric cars that were launched in 2019 include the Audi e-tron, the Hyundai Kona Electric, the Jaguar I-Pace, the Kia e-Niro and the Tesla Model 3.

Bron: ANWB + Wikipedia.org + MobilityPlus