If it weren’t for the power and practicality of combustion engines, and the slow pace of technological development surrounding electricity in the 19th century, and just about anything else to do with electric motors, we might all be driving electric vehicles today. Quite frankly, just about everything that could go wrong for the electric vehicle market did go wrong.
The first electric vehicle was produced in the Netherlands in the 1830’s. Throughout the rest of the century, physicists and engineers worked to improve the storage battery, extending the range and power of their electric cars and carriages. By the turn of the century, the electric vehicle was alive and well, setting land speed records and selling well as town cars for urban motorists. Two things happened in the early 20th century that spelled almost certain doom for the electric car industry. Cadillac released the electric starter in its vehicles, which made the more powerful combustion engines safer and more practical than they had ever been. Secondly, the Model T was taking off, and could be purchased for much less than the average EV. Combustion technology was cheaper to improve, which meant hard times for the electric vehicle market.
Any whiff of electric cars had virtually disappeared between 1930 and 1945. The transportation industry was dominated by world players in the age of combustion, and electric technology had yet to catch up. In the 1940’s everything would change with the advent of the transistor. Transistors allowed for leaps in battery technology advancement, and the return of the dream of the electric vehicle. Several major brands, such as GM and Toyota have attempted, under plenty of scrutiny, to develop and market electric vehicles. Legislation surrounding electric vehicle use has long been a topic of hot debate, drawing accusations of corruption between politicians and the oil industry. Proprietary manufacturers, such as Tesla, have been successful avoiding the politics surrounding EV vs. combustion and just going after the environmentally conscious and tech savvy consumers. As hybrid cars continue to move off dealer lots at surprising pace, one can only imagine it won’t be long before the auto industry’s major players come after their share of the cake.
Sites Worth Visiting
Electric Cars at Wikipedia
The electric car, or Battery Electric Vehicle, page at Wikipedia takes a focused look at the history of BEV technology and development around the globe. The site covers some of the basics concerning technology and compares EVs to combustion performance, albeit without much citation. The rest of the page, though, appears to be well-researched and full of great information on the battle to get EVs to the mass market.
This is a great news site covering every aspect of the electric car industry. They have their own news features and compile links to the latest stories around the web. The page has been here for 10 years now, making it one of the older sites concerning EVs on the web.
Blogs and Community Sites
Like EV cars, the websites devoted to them are outside the mainstream, and generally look it. Simple though the page may be, this is a great site to learn about converting a typical combustion vehicle into an EV machine. The current project here is a 1990 Ford Probe, for which there’s an entire archive detailing the process.
Electric Car Insider
Rob and Liz at ECI are definitely electric car fanatics. So much so, in fact, that it sometimes affects the quality of their posts. They get all excited and the words just come tumbling out of their fingertips. Honestly though, the site catches a lot of the big news surrounding this developing industry. The page is also nicely organized, a rarity in the electric car world.
EV World Forums
There aren’t many blogs out there that catch all the news that is news for electric cars. That’s where forums come in. For an emerging industry, the EV World forums are pleasantly active and well read, meaning you get every piece of news and every rumor that’s out there.
Dashboard News - Electric Vehicles
Follow all the electric car developments on this great car blog.
DIY Electric Car Forums
If you’re looking to get into hybrid modification or electric car conversion kits, you had better be all over this site. The forums stay up to date on more than just news. They’ve got posts on every aspect of getting more out of your car without taking it for an expensive, custom conversion. As always, when working on your new car battery, stay away from the shower.
Electric Might Not Be Worth It
A recent letter to EV World suggests owning an electric car might not be as cost-effective as some folks would lead you to believe. Of course, the author is using the Tesla Roadster as a baseline for comparison. A $98,000 car might not be the best guinea pig in an industry that’s hardly made it out of the womb.
Li-Tec Separion A Step Ahead
A German firm by the name of Li-Tec has recently released their Separion battery, a pair of lithium electrodes with high performance standards. The Separion boasts the same output as many market batteries but in 30% smaller package. Li-Tec also boasts the thermal stability of their new battery, citing the ceramic membrane connecting the two units as the latest in battery innovation.
10 Minute Charge
The one reason people believe EVs have yet to be successful at the consumer level is charge time. Battery charge times typically range from 2 to 12 hours, which is far too long for the average consumer. Altairnano has developed a battery than can reach full charge in 10 minutes, which looked like great news, until reports stated the 250kWh required to charge the thing. Do you have a substation in your backyard? Neither do we.
Prius to be built in United States
With high gas prices, Americans are abandoning their SUVs, so Toyota has decided to scrap plans to build trucks in their new plant and to build the Prius instead in order to eet demand.