In July of this year, US electric car sales jumped more than 45% compared to the same time period last year. Leading models include the Chevrolet Volt (2,406 sold); Tesla Model S & Model X (2,000 & 1,800, respectively) and the BMW i3 (1,479)1.
Questions regarding electric car’s consistently pop-up in conversation or on social media. Why are electric cars suddenly all the rage? When did electric cars first come into play? How has the EV industry grown?
It all started some 100 years ago. Innovators in Europe and the US experimented with a battery-powered vehicle in the earlier part of the 1800s. The first successful electric car was designed in 1890 by William Morrison, a chemist from Iowa, and had a top speed of 14 miles per hour. By 1900, around a third of all vehicles on the road were electric cars and growth continued until around 1910. In 1912, gas-powered cars cost almost a third of what an electric car cost2 and with evolving technology of gasoline-powered vehicles, they took off.
Fast-forward to 2000, with the worldwide debut of the Toyota Prius, electric cars made their way back into the spotlight. Silicon Valley startup, Tesla Motors, started producing electric cars in 2006 with a 200+ mile range on a single charge – at the time, unheard of. Over the next few years, other automakers came out with electric vehicles, but one problem remained – where to charge them.
Electric vehicles have transformed the way people think about their commutes, and even more so, their way of life. But what brought about these changes? One of the biggest evolutions is the fact that governments are embracing electric vehicle infrastructure and electric vehicles as a whole – offering workplace charging programs, installing new charging stations on major highways or in major metropolitan areas and offering incentives on EV and EV equipment purchases. Recent CO2 emission regulations are also encouraging adoption in the marketplace.
At NYPA, we recently held an EV showcase event, featuring models from three different auto-makers; employees and customers are offered incentives to “go green” by choosing to make their next car or fleet vehicle an EV or hybrid. At an event in Tarrytown, we celebrated over 100 charging stations that we’ve installed around New York State, with over 1,100 overall. Prioritizing clean transportation is moving from “wave of the future” to right now.
Another game-changer disrupting the industry is the economical aspect of electric car ownership. Though some EV’s may be pricier because of market forces, they’re cheaper to build and with fewer parts. An added bonus is that they’re also cheaper to maintain for the same reason. When prospective car buyers explore their next vehicle purchase, they also look at the comfort aspect – and electric cars can provide that with minimal road noise and an almost-silent motor, leading to a more stress-free environment. Consumers, especially those in the 18-34 age bracket, are scooping up EV’s since manufacturers have brought more choices to market while keeping prices competitive with their gas-powered counterparts.
We’re in an era where electric vehicles have changed more in the past 5 years, than they did during the entire 20th century. Nearly every major automotive brand is producing at least one electric vehicle, and charging station infrastructure continues to grow at a rapid rate. According to the Department of Energy2, if all light-duty vehicles in the US were hybrid or plug-in electric, we would reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 30-60 percent, while lowering carbon pollution from transportation by as much as 20 percent. The successes of electric vehicles today offer a breeding ground for the electric vehicle industry, and prove that electric vehicles are here to stay.