Rob Bryar Saves The World

Fall 2015, Vol. 1, No. 1

A Small History Of The Electric Car

Ever since the creation of the automobile, inventors and engineers have tinkered and toyed with the ideal of an electric car. There has always been concerns of pollution from early combustion engines and this spurred on chemists and others to help develop rechargeable batteries and push the range of these batteries further and further. The 1890s and the 1900s saw these first electric and gasoline-electric hybrid automobiles populating city streets making them a popular choice among city dwellers that had access to the burgeoning electrical infrastructures being laid in these urban centers.

But these early electric cars were not cheap; the urban well-to-dos were a majority of the early adopters of electric cars. Electric cars were mainly being made by hand with little to no automation which added to the cost to produce an electric car. It wasn’t until Henry Ford’s assemble lines and the discoveries of vast oil reserves that made gasoline based automobiles more affordable for the average consumer, making an electric car sell for almost twice the cost of a gasoline based car.

By the end of the 1910s, production of consumer based electric cars disappeared. Gas driven cars were not only cheaper to buy but they would go faster and further than any electric car even could. For the next eighty or more years, electric cars would be a cute and kitschy experiment that would be relegated to auto shows, futurists and environmentalists culminating in three lunar rovers and Ed Begley, Jr.

It wasn’t really until the 1990s when California adopted tougher clean air laws that the automotive industry began a renewed push to pump out electric and electric hybrid vehicles. Over the last twenty-five years, the push for these electric and other alternative fuel cars has only increased as consumers’ desire to elevate the cost of a fill up at the pump escalated. At first, these cars were four door sedans lacking character and excitement in their appearance or handling. Cars like the Toyota Prius and the Honda Insight, while being solid performing vehicles did little to quicken the pulse of the driver. This is now changing in the marketplace.

Manufacturers understand that their consumer base wants environmentally friendly vehicles that don’t sacrifice on performance or esthetics. The solution: a newer generation of sexy electric cars! There is the Tesla Model S that goes 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds and gets about 270 miles on a single charge. The Model X is an SUV that seats seven, runs for about 250 miles on a single charge and goes from 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. BMW enters the electric market with the i3, which offers high standards of luxury that BMW is known for packaged with a sleek neo-futuristic body design. The Volkswagen e-Golf sports a 115 horse powered engine and makes a claim that you can travel 83 miles on just $3 of electricity. Then there is the Mercedes- Benz B-Class Electric Drive, which also has a foundation in luxury but also an engine offering a top speed of 93 mph. These electric cars show that the automotive industry is ready to commit the same level of attention to consumer needs as they do with typical gas burning cars and they have come along way from Ed Begley’s electric go-cart thing.

But the real strides in the auto industry adapting to alternative fuel based cars are just getting started. There are more vehicles coming off the assembly lines with alternative fuel solutions such as electric and electric-gas hybrid from more and more manufacturers everyday. Porsche has a hybrid! Cadillac has a hybrid! The El Camino is coming back as a hybrid! The embracing of alternative fuel vehicles will quite frankly reduce the amount of carbon emissions by half of what a traditional gasoline burning car will. It is our duty to be smart consumers when we think about purchasing our future automobiles and because of the in roads of engineers across the 20th Century we can do so with less impact to the environment. We as consumers have more choices to reduce our carbon foot print, and look good doing it!