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1832 – 2018: The History Of Electric Cars

1832 – 2018: The History Of Electric Cars

There is a huge amount of publicity surrounding electric cars, or EVs, and for good reason. As carbon-based fuel continues to strain the environment, it’s clear that electric cars are essential to a sustainable future with cars as a main mode of transport.

But it’s not often enough mentioned that electric vehicles have been intrinsic to the development of the contemporary car, as we know it, with EVs dating as far back as 1832!

Moreover, the EV will continue to play an ever-increasing role in the auto industry, and it is with this mindset that on February 13th 2019, Hippo Motor Group is hosting a talk from chartered accountants and business tax specialists PM&M on electric vehicles and taxation for the Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, all organised by Scott Dawson Advertising. The event begins at 12 pm with a light buffet provided by Accrington & Rossendale College.

Hippo Motor Group dug into the archives of EVs and put together this infographic to shed some light into how influential electric cars have been in the motor industry. Let’s walk through the long history of electric cars.


Way back in 1832, Scottish inventor Robert Anderson invented the first crude EV: an electric carriage powered by non-rechargeable power cells.


In 1837, a milestone was reached in that the first US patent was granted to Thomas Davenport and his wife Emily for an electric motor.


In 1881 saw a huge development when French scientist Camille Alphonse developed the first mass-producible rechargeable battery, the lead-acid battery which has since been integral to vehicle production. The rechargeable lead-acid battery was originally developed by another Frenchman, Gaston Planté in 1859, however, it wasn’t until Alphonse’s developments that these batteries became scalable for use in automotive vehicles.


The world had to wait until 1890 for the first practical electric car, from US inventor, William Morrison of the Morrison Motor Co. This EV was a six-seater with a top speed of 14-mph.


At the tender age of 23, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche, the founder of the prestige car company of the same name, launches his first car – the Lohner Electric Chaise 1898. Initially, these were fully battery-powered vehicles, however, they later developed as petrol-electric hybrids.


The turn of the century is lovingly referred to as the ‘Golden Age of Electric Vehicles’, as at this stage they are outselling petrol cars 2:1. Sadly, that was not to last forever.


1908 is etched in automotive history forever as the year Henry Ford launched the Model T. It marks a turning point as Ford’s conveyor belt assembly line strategy allows him to sell the Model T for $650, compared to an electric Roadstar which retailed for $1,750.

Nevertheless, Henry Ford reportedly purchased electric vehicles for his wife Clara and their son Edsel.


While hydrocarbon engines are the dominant fuel for vehicles on Earth, a combustion engine that runs in space had yet to be developed (nor yet has been developed), and in when  NASA needed a moon buggy in 1971 for the final three Apollo missions, the Lunar Roving buggy was powered by a battery pack.


By 1973, a turning point had been reached with carbon-based fuels due to the Arab oil embargo. The world realised dependance on crude oil needed to be reduced, and research and development into alternative fuel began.

Sadly, in the 1970s, EVs lagged behind their combustion counterparts in terms of both range and speed.


With enthusiasm to capitalise on the UK market’s need for all-electric vehicles, English entrepreneur and inventor Sir Clive Sinclair launched the C5 electric vehicle. The market is not ready, and as a result, the C5 is remembered as something that tried and failed to replace cars and bicycles but was unfortunately limited in what it offered in terms of battery capacity and overall performance.


In a huge turning point, Japanese carmaker launches the Prius, the first mass-produced electric vehicle and an instant success.


Tesla launches the first pure EV using lithium-ion batteries. Tesla’s success prompts many car manufacturers to accelerate their EV program.


The Nissan Leaf (Pure EV) and Chevrolet Colt (a Hybrid) are launched to the US market.


A result of ongoing investment in battery research, the cost of batteries is reduced by 50% by 2014. Battery range and life also increase


In a landmark development for the UK, the British government passes legislation to make all new cars electric by 2020.

Electric cars have come a long way in their 185-year existence, but with the many developments that the auto industry has seen in the last few years alone, it is clear that the best is yet to come.

Join us on Wednesday the 13th February 2019 at our showroom for an illuminating discussion for the Lancashire Chamber of Commerce from PM&M on electric cars and taxation hosted by Scott Dawson Advertising.