Have you ever thought about buying an electric car? As with any purchase, it is best to know all you can before you buy. Knowing the history of electric cars is a good way to start. It is one that may surprise you.

Electric cars are not a new thing. They have been around longer than you would have ever believed. When delving into the history of electric cars, you will find some amazing people as well as companies that have pioneered the way for this car.

What Is an Electric Car?

history of electric cars

An electric car, also called an electric vehicle or EV for short, is an automobile that is powered by some form of electricity. Electric current replaces gasoline and goes into the motor and moves the car. Some are fully powered by rechargeable batteries while others use both electricity and gas.

Electric cars are charged using a plug. It is mostly done by using an electric cord, but a bit larger. You must charge it because the batteries drain, and they need to be recharged to work.

A Quick History of Electric Cars 

It is hard to believe the history of electric cars goes as far back as the late 1800s. The first electric car was made in London by a man named Thomas Parker. He used rechargeable batteries to power it. The electric car continued to evolve, and by 1897, it had reached the US. A design resembling a horseless carriage was making its way into more and more homes. People preferred it over the noisy ones powered by gasoline. They especially appreciated that it didn’t require any hand cranking or shifting of gears.

While electric cars were in high usage, it didn’t really take off in full swing as it has in modern times. In fact, it actually peaked in 1912, and gasoline cars started to replace the electric ones. It wasn’t until around 1960 that the interest in the electric car started to come back. People wanted cars that didn’t pollute the air and that helped protect the ozone layer. But not only were they concerned about air quality, but gas prices had increased, and they were looking for more ways to save their money. Electric vehicles are now on the rise today and the vehicle has expanded into several different types.

Types of Electric Cars 

Solar Car

Solar Car

This type of car receives its electrical power from the sun. It is designed with solar panels to convert the energy from the sun into electricity which then charges the battery.

Hybrid Car

Hybrid Car

Whether this car is considered to be an electric car depends on the type of hybrid you purchase. This car runs on both gasoline and a battery. There are two models - the plug-in and non-plug-in hybrid. The non-plug in type is not considered to be an electric car, because it uses gasoline as its power source. This can also be called a plug-in hybrid electric.

Battery Electric Vehicle

Battery Electric Vehicle

This is the car we think of when we are referring to a typical electric car. It has a battery and a motor it runs on. This car doesn’t use diesel or gas for its power source. It is considered an electric vehicle because it needs to be plugged in to charge its battery.

Hydrogen Fuel Cell

fuel cell

We don’t hear a lot about this type because it is still a new alternative to producing electricity. It is special in that it uses a fuel cell to convert hydrogen gas into electricity which in turn runs the car. This means that it will have fewer emissions coming from its tailpipe than gasoline cars.

Benefits of Using an Electric Car


The gas that you would save alone makes it worth checking out electric cars. That is a lot of money that you could do other things with, such as taking a vacation in your electric car for instance.

Another financial benefit is that the state and federal governments will often provide tax incentives, sometimes for thousands of dollars in savings.

Bridge and Toll Fees

In some cities, if you drive an electric car, you do not have to pay bridge or toll fees. This can definitely save you money in the long term.

Carpool Lane

If you have an electric car, you can drive in the carpool lane in some cities, even if you don’t have two people in your car. This will get you to work faster and take the stress out of fighting traffic during peak hours.

Environmental Help

Electric cars do not only personally benefit the user, but they also benefit the environment. These cars cut back on polluting our air. Since they don’t burn gas, then there is nothing coming out of the tailpipe.

Charging Stations

While this doesn’t seem like a benefit, it most certainly is. Have you ever seen where the charging stations are for an electric car? You should look next time if you haven’t. They are very close to the storefront in most public areas. So next time you can’t find parking at your local store or mall, check out out the charging stations. You will find yourself getting an electric car just for the convenience of being able to park near the front doors.

A Short Glimpse into Their Future

There are a lot of companies that are making electric cars today. But one must consider the companies that contributed to the history of electric cars to appreciate the future we are heading towards. The vehicles have evolved over the years, and it is important to note how these companies contributed to their evolution before we learn what is coming around the corner.

GM the Pioneer

The history of electric cars will always be written with General Motors at the top. They produced a car called the EV1. It held its own at the time with 70 to 90 miles on one single charge. But that standard would pale in comparison with today's electric cars. They only leased their cars, though, and when that lease was up, so was the company. General Motors destroyed the cars once they were all returned after expired leases.

They claimed it was too expensive to produce them, and this was the reason for the destruction. But nonetheless, they had very devoted clients that really missed the car so much that they had a funeral for it. Now that is true customer appreciation.

Tesla the Innovator

We have all heard of Tesla as it is most common among the electric car arena. Their Model S and 3, as well as their Roadster, have been a huge contribution in the history of electric cars. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, started in 2008 with designing them, and today he has even surpassed his own expectations. His cars are a bit pricey, but he is working on making one that the average person can afford. This is his goal and promise to us.

So where does this history of the electric car take us now? It is safe to say that the market for EV has definitely expanded triple or quadruple fold.  But what other electric cars can we look forward to seeing on the roadways? It looks like luxury SUVs are now the next hot item.

SUV Companies to Look For

Tesla Sets the Future Standard

Right now, Tesla has control of the market for SUVs. But this is about to change. With their Model X SUV as the only all-electric SUV, it has sparked up the competition. Now other companies want in on the action and why not? We all need more room for our families and our pets, so an SUV is perfect for that. The market reflects this with SUVs having contributed to 60% of car sales last year. This was up from last year by 8%. That is a good sign they are on the right track.


They are great at making cars but an SUV? Well, it is happening and faster than two of its competitors. They will introduce their SUV named I-Pace Concept in late 2018. This is an all-electric SUV and will be the first ever they've manufactured. It might be nice to see the features on this one, because Jaguar knows their way around high-end amenities.

Mercedes-Benz and Porsche

It wouldn’t be a competition without these two. Mercedes-Benz and Porsche are both releasing an all-electric SUV in the year 2020. It will be quite interesting to see who will release their SUV first. You can guarantee they will be trying to get some of the Tesla customers' attention.


Now the players are all complete with Audi joining the ranks of electric SUV manufacturing. They are to release their all-electric E-Tron Quattro, they hope ahead of Jaguar. We will have to look out for this one and see how its mileage and other features stack up to the competition.


Looking at the history of electric cars can be helpful to know if you or someone you know will be looking to buy one in the future. An electric car not only benefits you but also the environment. We are leaving this world a better place when driving these cars, and that is really what it is all about.

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