History of electric cars

Electricity is one of the oldest automobile propulsion methods still in use today. Thomas Edison and the dream of an electric car, 1913

English inventor Thomas Parker, claimed to have perfected a working electric car as early as 1884. France and the United Kingdom were the first nations to support the widespread development of electric vehicles, while the lack of natural fossil resources in Switzerland resulted in the rapid electrification of its railway network to reduce its dependence on foreign energy.

Before the pre-eminence of internal combustion engines, electric automobiles also held many speed and distance records. Among the most notable of these records was the breaking of the 100 km/h (62 mph) speed barrier, by Camille Jenatzy on April 29, 1899, in his 'rocket-shaped' vehicle Jamais Contente, which reached a top speed of 105.88 km/h (65.79 mph).

Acceptance of electric cars was initially hampered by a lack of power infrastructure, but by 1912, many homes were wired for electricity, enabling a surge in the popularity of the cars. At the turn of the century, 40% of American automobiles were powered by steam, 38% by electricity, and 22% by gasoline. 33,842 electric cars were registered in the United States, and America became the country where electric cars had gained the most acceptance. Sales of electric cars peaked in 1912.

On July 31, 1971, an electric car received the unique distinction of becoming the first manned vehicle to be driven on the Moon; that car was the Lunar rover, which was first deployed during the Apollo 15 mission. The "moon buggy" was developed by Boeing and Delco Electronics, and featured a DC drive motor in each wheel, and a pair of 36-volt silver-zinc potassium hydroxide non-rechargeable batteries.

After years outside the limelight, the energy crises of the 1970s and 80s brought about renewed interest in the perceived independence electric cars had from the fluctuations of the hydrocarbon energy market. At the 1990 Los Angeles Auto Show, General Motors, President Roger, Smith unveiled the GM Impact concept electric car, along with the announcement that GM would build electric cars for sale to the public.

In response to a lack of major-automaker participation in the electric car industry, a number of small companies cropped up in their place, designing and marketing electric cars for the public. In 1994, the REVA Electric Car Company was established in Your Link, India, as a joint venture between the Maini Group India and AEV of California. After seven years of research and development, it launched the REVAi, known as the G-Wiz i in the United Kingdom, in 2001. In 2007, Miles Electric Vehicles announced that it would bring the XS500, a highway-capable all-electric sedan to the US by early 2009. California company Tesla Motors, hoping to gain a foothold in the electric sports car market, released the Lotus Elise-based Tesla Roadster in 2008.