The electric car, which eschews only gasoline or diesel power to run partially on electricity, has become very popular in recent years. The electric car has a long and storied history, as initial experimentation into battery powered vehicles started way back in the 1800s.
According to the Department of Energy, the first successful electric car in the United States was unveiled around 1890. The car, an invention of William Morrison, had a top speed of 14 miles per hour and could hold up to six people. The innovation by Henry Ford dealt a huge blow to any prospects of the electric vehicle, as the Model T was vastly cheaper than any electric vehicle. Cheap gasoline and the rapid construction of roads essentially saw the electric car all but disappear by 1935.
Ever-rising oil prices in the 1960s and 1970s reinvigorated research and development into electric cars, and the new millennium ushered in hopes that the electric vehicle industry could become viable and self-sustaining.
Here are some important facts and statistics about electric cars:
Electric Vehicles and Their Capabilities
**Electric Cars Are Easy to Maintain: **
Vehicles that are all-electric are very easy to maintain and repair. Many electric vehicles use regenerative braking, which extends the life of the break pad. New technology is also making the cost of the battery less.
**Electric Cars Can Be Great for Commuting: **
**Around 70% of drivers in the US are on the road for less than 60 miles each weekday. Electric battery cars like the 2013 Tesla Model S, the 2014 Fiat 500e or the 2014 Ford Focus Electric all have a range that is higher than this number, making them a reliable commuting vehicle. **
**Not All Electric Cars Are the Same: **
Some are known as plug in hybrids, which have a gas/diesel engine and an electric motor. Others, known as ‘battery electric’ just use electricity, while hydrogen fuel cell vehicles turn hydrogen gas into electricity. **
**Recharging the Battery is Quick and Easy: **
There are over 5,000 public charging stations across the United States, and the Department of Energy even has an Alternative Fueling Station Locator on their website. Electricity is cheaper in the night, which means it is easy to recharge the vehicle while you sleep. Since electric vehicles have no pollutants from the tailpipe, they would also improve air quality and help meet government fuel economy and emission regulations.
**Many Can Move at High Speeds: **
Some electric vehicles are able to go up to 100-130 miles per hour. One electric vehicle, the Ellica, has driven at speeds up to 230 miles per hour.
The Current State of the Electric Car
**Electric Vehicles Are Safe to Drive: **
Electric cars still have to undergo the same safety testing and evaluations their fuel-powered counterparts are subject to. Even if the supply of electricity is cut in an accident, the airbags will still deploy.
**Millions of Electric Cars Are on the Road: **
The International Energy Agency says there are over 2 million electric cars in use, and 750,000 were sold across the world last year. The highest registered sales were last year’s sales.
The Biggest Electric Vehicle Market is in China:
Electric vehicle sales in China accounted for 50% of total sales last year. Europe and the United States were the second and third largest markets. Even with all the sales, electric vehicles still make up just 0.2% of all cars in circulation.
Electric Vehicles and the Environment
**Electric Vehicles Could Help Quell Climate Change: **
Even though the number of electric cars on the road currently is small, some believe their increased use could help regulate projected temperature increases. The IEA’s Energy Technology Perspectives says there would need to be 600 million electric cars in use by 2014 in order to keep temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.
**Electric Vehicles Are Very Efficient: **
Only 14-26% of the battery’s energy is converted to a traditional gas-powered car, according to the Department of Energy. In contrast, an electric vehicle can convert up to 80% of the battery’s energy.
**Electric Cars Could Drastically Slash Oil Consumption: **
The Union of Concerned Scientists said in 2013 how an estimated 42% of households in the USA could use the electric vehicles that were on the market. They also said if everyone at the time who could have used an electric vehicle did, they would have saved 350 million barrels of oil a year.
The Future of Electric Vehicles
**Many Global Cities Have Embraced Electric Technology: **
Amsterdam has a program that facilitates the construction of charging stations when people request a new one. Paris lets electric cars power up at Autolib re-charge stations. Some cities in the United States are looking to use electric vehicles as part of their city fleet, which could include police cars, trash vehicles, and street sweepers.
**Further Investment is Needed to Keep Up with Estimated Production: **
The sale of electric vehicles actually declined last year in relation to 2015. However, technology improvements. Batteries are getting cheaper and energy density is getting better. This gives hope that the industry can meet sales targets set by policymakers and manufacturers. Ambitious and sustained investment is vitally important in order to meet sales growth targets and continue research and development.
**The Government is Investing in New Technology: **
Back in 2010, the US government gave Tesla Motors a loan of US$ 465 million to build a manufacturing facility for its electric sports car. Subsequent legislation has earmarked millions of dollars for constructing charging infrastructures. The Vehicle Technologies Office of the US Energy Department has supported new battery technology to both improve battery performance, and to cut costs.
Promotion and Policy Support Must Come At All Levels:
**In order to sustain the electric car industry, cities, countries, and industries need to keep finding direct research and promote purchase subsidies, better fuel economy standards, and zero-emissions mandates. The International Energy Agency says fuel taxes and grid decarbonization endeavors could also enhance the cost-effectiveness of electric vehicles if promoted properly. **