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Invention of the Electric Vehicle

Several inventors have been credited with building the first electric powered vehicle.  The most commonly cited are Thomas Davenport, a blacksmith from Brandon, Vermont and Robert Anderson of Scotland in early to mid-1830s. Rechargeable batteries would not be invented until several decades later so many early vehicles were simply for demonstration. 

 

Attempts at Revive the Electric Vehicle

Starting in the mid-20th century, manufacturers made several attempts to bring electric vehicles back into the mainstream but none of these managed to garner much traction. 

The most notable attempt of this period came in the early 1990's when General Motors released the EV1.  This popular subcompact boasted an 140 mile range but was discontinued when it was deemed unprofitable. 

Early Electric Powered Vehicles

By the turn of the century, interest in motor vehicles soared and many companies had started to build steam, electric, and internal-combustion engine powered transportation.  Electric vehicles had an early advantage as they were easier to operate and didn't have the noise or exhaust issues of their ICE competition.  This advantage diminished in 1912 with the introduction of the electric starter and marked the peak of EV production.  Other advancements such as the muffler and emergence of affordable and easily-available gasoline led to its dominance for the rest of the century.

Electric Vehicle Comeback

Advancements in lithium-ion battery technology has led to a recent resurgence in interest in EVs.  These modern electric vehicles can reach ranges above 300 miles per charge and increased charging infrastructure buildout might signal a more permanent presence in the future. 

Thomas doerfer, CC BY 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons