Electric Vehicles

Growing Popularity of the Electric Vehicle

A commonly heard marketing ploy in today’s society is “going green”. It affects the cleaning products we use, the produce we buy and even the type of automobile we select. Of course, this Green Technology does have its benefits-one of which is cleaner air as a result of vehicle emissions test. As auto developers began looking for other ways to improve transportation technology, electric cars and hybrid vehicles started appearing more frequently on the market. And, while many may believe that the electric auto is a relatively new approach to auto transportation, in reality, it has been around for many years. In fact, it was actually first used by Camille Jenatzy in 1899 to power his rocket shaped vehicle which could reach speeds of 105.88 mph. More interesting, is that in 1897, there was a fleet of electrical taxis used in New York City. The vehicles were built by the Electric Carriage Company of Philadelphia. In addition, electric automobiles were also produced by American company, Anthony Electric and included vehicles like the Studebaker, Riker and the Milburn in the early 20th century. The electric cars, and later trucks, grew in popularity and by the turn of the century there were nearly 34,000 (38%) electric cars registered in the U.S. with sales peaking in 1912.

Despite the use of electric auto technology (such as it was) being early on in vehicle history, it took a bit of a backseat for a number decades until the 1990s, when at the Los Angeles Auto Show, General Motors revealed the GM Impact electric car and announced that GM would be building electric vehicles for the public. These electric cars would promote California’s “Clean Air Act” promoting more fuel efficiency and lower emissions. Typically, these were designed for two people. The concept began to catch on, and before long other auto makers such as Nissan, Tesla and Li-ion Motors (Mooresville, NC) began developing electric models of their own. At Tesla Motors auto specialist introduced the Tesla Roadster in 2008 with other electric cars (also referred to as electric vehicles or EVs) to follow. In June of 2009, BMW began field testing the electric Mini-E in the Los Angeles and New York-New Jersey areas. Then, in August 2009 the Nissan LEAF was launched as the first all-electric 5 door family hatchback produced for the mass market; the LEAF has a range of 100 miles and is comparable to the Ford Focus EV. In addition, the Nissan Leaf was named the 2011 European Car of the Year by Auto Scribes. Other electric cars that should soon be available include the Toyota FT-EV slated for 2010, the 7-seater Tesla Model S planned for late 2011 and the Renault Fluence for 2011.

There are other electric cars slated for release in the near future, but at this point many of them are still in the design and trial stage. It should also be pointed out that while environmentally friendly, the electric car does pack a punch in regards to price. Electric cars can range in cost from $25,000 to well over $100,000-depending on make, model, and passenger potential and how long the car can travel between needing to be recharged. However, those in favor of the EV point out that these automobiles do not require oil changes and other engine related needs. The electric car is no longer an uncommon sighting when traveling around town. No, it has not become the norm, nor is this mode of transportation without its share of pros and cons, but it is growing in popularity-especially in states such as California where the emission standards are much higher. The automobile industry is always looking for better and more efficient ways to travel, and right now, the electric car is definitely a part of that venture.

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