Electric Cars: 21st Century Revival
In our last article, electric cars effectively died out by 1935 and it would not come back until the end of the century. Although EVs are almost synonymous with Tesla nowadays, the revival of the industry was made by Toyota.
In 1997, Toyota introduced the Prius which quickly became the world’s first mass produced hybrid electric car. Now lost in shadow, the Prius was then a global success with celebrities promotion, the rise of gasoline prices and an increasing concern about the environment. Other manufacturers followed suit by releasing their own hybrid models, among others Honda. Following the recall of General Motors’ EV1 cars, Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning founded Tesla Motors to revolutionize the industry. Tesla was then joined by Elon Musk who had the vision of an automotive and technology company. In 2008, Tesla released the all-electric Roadster which was praised by early adopters.
Two impediments of EVs are the range and availability of charging stations. With the acquisition of Maxwell, Tesla has the capacity to improve its battery technology and increase the range of its vehicles. Moreover, Tesla is expanding its US-wide network of charging stations, what makes the car attractive even to road trip enthusiasts.
With the success of Tesla, major automotive companies and startups are betting on the electric future. Among others, Audi pledges to electrify 30% of their U.S. lineup by 2025, Nikola is making electric freight trucks, and Lucid Motors will launch a luxury electric vehicle this year. Once considered a niche product at the start of the millennium, electric vehicles are the hottest topic now and the industry is seemingly unstoppable.
This is ultimately a win for the environment. Electric vehicles are far cleaner than their gas-powered counterparts as they emit no greenhouse gases on the road. Hence, they would contribute to slowing down global warming if widely adopted. Given their increasing technological improvement, electric cars might be the norm a few years from now!
Written by Kelly Jean, Class of 2021
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