Timeline: History of the Electric Car
Scottish inventor Robert Anderson invents the first crude electric carriage powered by non-rechargeable primary cells.
American Thomas Davenport is credited with building the first practicalelectric vehicle -- a small locomotive.
French physicist Gaston Planté invents the rechargeable lead-acid storage battery. In 1881, his countryman Camille Faure will improve the storage battery's ability to supply current and invent the basic lead-acid battery used in automobiles.
William Morrison of Des Moines, Iowa builds the first successful electric automobile in the United States.
Thomas Edison and an electric car. ...view middle of the document...
During the 1920s the electric car ceases to be a viable commercial product. The electric car's downfall is attributable to a number of factors, including the desire for longer distance vehicles, their lack of horsepower, and the ready availability of gasoline.
Congress introduces the earliest bills recommending use of electric vehicles as a means of reducing air pollution. A Gallup poll indicates that 33 million Americans are interested in electric vehicles.
Concerns about the soaring price of oil -- peaking with the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973 -- and a growing environmental movement result in renewed interests in electric cars from both consumers and producers.
Victor Wouk, the "Godfather of the Hybrid," builds the first full-powered, full-size hybrid vehicle out of a 1972 Buick Skylark provided by General Motors (G.M.) for the 1970 Federal Clean Car Incentive Program. The Environmental Protection Association later kills the program in 1976.
Vanguard-Sebring's CitiCar makes its debut at the Electric Vehicle Symposium in Washington, D.C. The CitiCar has a top speed of over 30 mph and a reliable warm-weather range of 40 miles. By 1975 the company is the sixth largest automaker in the U.S. but is dissolved only a few years later.
The U.S. Postal Service purchases 350 electric delivery jeeps from AM General, a division of AMC, to be used in a test program.
Congress passes the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act. The law is intended to spur the development of new technologies including improved batteries, motors, and other hybrid-electric components.
Roger Smith, CEO of G.M. , agrees to fund research efforts to build a practical consumer electric car. G.M. teams up with California's AeroVironment to design what would become the EV1, which one employee called "the world's most efficient production vehicle." Some electric vehicle enthusiasts have speculated that the EV1 was never undertaken as a serious commercial venture by the large automaker.
California passes its Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate, which requires two percent of the state's vehicles to have no emissions by 1998 and 10 percent by 2003. The law is repeatedly weakened over the next decade to reduce the number of pure ZEVs it requires.
Toyota unveils the Prius -- the world's first commercially mass-produced and marketed hybrid car -- in Japan. Nearly 18,000 units are sold during the first production year.
1997 - 2000
A few thousand all-electric cars (such as Honda's EV Plus, G.M.'s EV1, Ford's Ranger pickup EV, Nissan's Altra EV, Chevy's S-10 EV, and Toyota's RAV4 EV) are produced by big car manufacturers, but most of them are available for lease only. All of the major automakers' advanced all-electric production programs will be discontinued by the early 2000s.
G.M. and DaimlerChrysler sue the California Air Resources...