Electric cars have been with us longer than you think

As an alternative to cars run on fossil fuel, the electric car ticks all of the boxes for people with concerns about the environment. With companies like BMW already marketing the ‘hybrid’ car which combines electric and petrol technology, the concept has come a long way since it was first thought up in the mid-nineteenth century.

A brief history

The original perception of the electric car was so successful that early models were more prevalent than any other type of vehicle. In the USA early makes included the Columbia Electric ‘runabout’ and the Baker Electric car, with a cruising range of 40 miles and 100 miles respectively. Cars powered by an electric motor were used as taxi cabs in New York and London, and their popularity looked secure, though limited by range.

However, because of their limitations and the development of more efficient petrol engines, by 1935 the electric vehicle had almost disappeared.

The revival of the electric concept

The 1973 oil embargo led to big increases in petrol prices, and a revival of the general public’s interest in electric powered cars. However, even though it seemed that the world was ready for an alternative to petrol, the industry still didn’t have the technology to come up with the goods.

The break through

To many experts the turning point for electric vehicles came with the first ‘mass-produced’ hybrid. The Toyota Prius raised the profile of this environmentally friendly motor and was an enormous success with celebrities.


The market for an electric car offers consumers a big choice of styles and sizes. In the USA alone, there are now around 3.3 million hybrid models on the road. The evolution of electric vehicles has come a long way reaching a peak with models such as the Porsche hybrid that delivers 72 miles per gallon and has a top speed of 200mph.