Victorian-Era Photos Prove Electric Cars Were Popular Way Before Tesla
Electric vehicles seem like a new invention, but these fascinating photos from over 100 years ago show that EVs existed long before Elon Musk and Tesla.
Edison’s alkaline battery-powered car was not the first attempted electric vehicle, the first full-sized EV trundled out 200 years ago in 1832.
A Scottish inventor named Robert Anderson created an electric-powered carriage which was followed by Vermont blacksmith Thomas Davenport unveiling a small locomotive in 1837 that was powered by the first American DC electric motor.
In 1884, Thomas Parker of London built the first electric production car which used high-capacity rechargeable batteries. This kickstarted a boon for electric vehicles.
In 1890, an electric wagon was introduced to the United States, and between 1900 and 1912 a third of all vehicles on U.S. roads were powered by electricity.
Much like today, the popularity was because of the vehicle’s lack of pollutants, quiet nature, and ease to drive. It was during this period that Edison made his own EV.
However, the EV market would grind to a halt when, in 1908, Henry Ford introduced the Model T. The Ford was easier to refuel, competitively priced, and sold 15 million units by 1927.
It wasn’t until 1973 when British chemist M. Stanley Whittingham invented the world’s first rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that things would start looking up again for EVs. And even then, it wasn’t until 1997 that the world’s first mass-produced hybrid vehicle would arrive: the Toyota Prius.