History of EV's - You might be surprised....I was.

This is the first in a series regarding EV's and the c-store market. When I began researching the topic of EV’s for this series of blog posts, I found out that there was a lot of history that I was unaware of.   I really enjoy history, and while it isn’t terribly pertinent to todays’ climate for EV’s and the C-store industry in general, it is interesting and there actually are a couple of lessons that we can learn.  

The First EV’s

The first acknowledged EV was an electrified carriage built by Robert Anderson (Scotland)….In the mid 1830’s!   Several other small scale EV’s were built by various inventors around the same period.  But then, as in modern times, battery technology needed to make a few giant strides.   After rechargeable batteries were invented more practical EV’s started to be designed.

A modified tricycle, built by English scientists William Ayrton and John Perry in 1881
6 Passenger EV built by William Morrison (Iowa) in 1890 – Considered by many to be the first successful practical EV

By the early 1900’s EV’s made up approximately 1/3 of all vehicles on the road!  In 1897 New York City introduced a fleet of EV taxis.     Steam powered cars outnumbered electric leaving only roughly 1/5 of the market for internal combustion engines, which were considered dirty and loud.  

Do you think that the Toyota Prius was the first hybrid vehicle?   Nope.  It was a Porsche, and it was built in 1901.

1901 Porsche Mixte

So, What Happened?

Even though EV’s and steam had a commanding market share, by the 1920’s internal combustion vehicles had nearly the entire market captured.   There were 4 major things that combined to essentially kill the EV and steam vehicle market.  

Ford, Texas, Highways – and Gas Stations!

The first contributing factor to the demise of the early EV was Henry Ford.  He began to mass produce the Model T (1912) which made the cost of owning a vehicle much more affordable for the average household.   At one point in the early 1920’s you could purchase the least expensive Model T for under$300 and the Model T accounted for a nearly 50% market share.

About the same time that Mr. Ford was beginning to mass produce his Model T, the oil fields of Texas were being developed in a big way, bringing the cost of fuel down to new record low prices.  After the Spindale oil strike of 1901 oil prices fell to below $.03/barrel.

Cheap fuel and inexpensive vehicles brought on the desire travel which created a demand for more highways – and more highways meant more gas stations to enable longer and longer trips – essentially the end of EV’s until the gas crisis of the 1970’s renewed interest.

Modern History

As in the past, the “cycle” of range vs. fuel cost started over again – and add pollution concerns into the mix.   Battery technology has made huge strides since the 1980’s and continues to improve, increasing the range of EV’s.   The Toyota Prius was the first hybrid to be mass produced (1997) and Tesla introduced their first model in 2008.  These offerings have helped push the market forward.

2008 Tesla Roadster

We’ll discuss state and federal government involvement in the current push to move the segment forward in upcoming posts but suffice to say they are heavily involved, and it has become a political issue.  I interviewed Mr. Tim Rose, General Manager of REMA USA, LLC for an upcoming post and he had some very interesting insights.   REMA manufactures the charging connectors for most EV manufacturers.

I’ll share much of my interview with Mr. Rose in the next post of this series and he has shared a lot of information with me that is pertinent to the C-store market.

Partner with us to win

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in”

- Winston Churchill

Book a call