Well, when it comes to automobiles, the future is easy to see—in fact, it’s already arrived. Electric cars are everywhere and it doesn’t take a prophet to predict that we’ll be see more and more of them in the years to come. Let’s take a look at 12 amazing milestones in the history of electric cars.
1. Way, Way Back
The very first electric vehicle may well have been invented by a Vermonter (we’re filled with home-state pride!) back in 1834. Thomas Davenport, a blacksmith, developed an electric motor for a small locomotive that moved along a short track. The first production electric car was built by Thomas Parker in London in 1884. It even had high-capacity rechargeable batteries!
2. 1900 Was a Big Year
By 1900, about a third of all vehicles on the road in the United States were electric! But over the next few decades, the abundance, and low cost, of gasoline led to electric vehicles (EVs) becoming an afterthought.
3. Prius Power
In 1997, Toyota released the Prius in Japan, the world’s first mass-produced electric hybrid. (Hybrids are powered by an engine that uses gasoline or an alternative fuel, combined with an electric motor.) The model was released worldwide in 2000 and brought the idea of electric motoring back into the mainstream.
4. ’Lectric Lux
In 2006, Tesla announced the production of its first car, the Tesla Roadster—the first mass-produced, truly luxury electric vehicle. Tesla is currently working to get its first “affordable,” mass-market car, the Model 3, to customers.
5. More and More and More
Worldwide, 750,000 electric vehicles were sold in 2016, putting the global number of EVs on the road at a record 2 million. That number is predicted to grow to between 9 million and 20 million by 2020, and between 40 million and 70 million by 2025.
6. Clean = Green = $$$
Tesla surpassed Ford in market value this spring. Then, a week later, Tesla found itself valued more than General Motors. Ford and GM have been producing millions of fossil-fuel-burning cars for more than 100 years each. Tesla is only about 14 years old, but the market appears to be betting on an electric future.
7. All in on Electric
This past July, Volvo became the first mainstream carmaker to give up on gas guzzling, saying that all of its models, starting in 2019, will either be hybrids or powered only by batteries. A few months later, apparently having seen the writing on the wall, General Motors stepped up to say that it believes “the future is all-electric”—it’ll begin producing at least 20 new EVs by 2023.
8. The Speed of Light (Or Electricity?)
9. Range Roving
EV batteries continue to improve, meaning that drivers can drive their cars ever farther between charges. The record for Tesla range was set this summer when someone drove 670 miles on a single battery charge. That should help eliminate “range anxiety.”
10. Charge It
At some point, no matter how powerful the battery, every EV will need to be charged. The good news is that charging stations are being added all over the country: now there are more than 16,000, compared to just a few thousand a few years ago. More good news: charging times are coming down too.
11. China in the Driver’s Seat
China is dominating the EV industry. It’s the world’s largest maker and seller of electric cars, with about 300,000 of them purchased this year—more than the rest of the world combined.
12. Au Revoir, Gas-Powered Cars
The mayor of Paris, France, Anne Hidalgo, announced plans in October 2017 to eliminate all non-electric cars from Paris streets by 2030. At the rate EVs are being added to the roads, it’s starting to feel like that goal is well within reach.