Last updated on April 27, 2023
The history of electric cars can be broken up into six distinct periods:
- 1830-1880: The early pioneers of electric mobility
- 1880-1914: The transition to motorized transport
- 1914-1970: The rise of the internal combustion engine
- 1970-2003: The return of electric vehicles
- 2003-2020: The electric revolution
- 2021-Present day: The tipping point and beyond
The world’s first electric vehicles (EVs) predate gasoline-powered cars, with experimental prototypes emerging in Hungary, the Netherlands, and the UK around the 1830s. The first practical EV is often considered to be American inventor William Morrison’s vehicle from around 1890.
Modern EVs emerged in the late 20th century in response to the 1973 Oil Crisis and growing climate concerns. Starting with the Toyota Prius in 1997, the 2000s marked the re-emergence and development of hybrid vehicles, building to the launch of the first mass-market EV in 2010 with the Nissan Leaf.
Since then, the electric car markets have seen exponential growth as sales exceeded 10 million in 2022 and electric cars now represent one in seven vehicles sold globally. As the world seeks to transition to a sustainable future and governments around the world ban the sale of internal combustion vehicles, the future looks bright for electric mobility.
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