As of today, I am traveling to university, my life packed up in the boot and the backseat of my mum’s car. So as we stop for the night with family, I want to look into the car that has managed to get us all the way here. Until earlier in the year, my family had always had cars that run on petrol. I have, however, spent many hours today in an electric car instead. In recent years there have been many pushes for the increased use of electric cars because of global warming and other such issues caused by the emission of petrol.
So while electric cars seem to be a fairly recent thing to come into the mainstream, they have actually been in the process of being invented for a long time coming. The original ideas for electric cars originated in the 19th century, specifically in 1828 in the office of a Hungarian inventor. While he did not actually build an electric car, he did design a model for a car that would be fitted with and powered by a small electromagnet that would work in a way that allowed the car to be powered by electricity. The model that he built to demonstrate this still works to this day. It was not until four years later in 1832 that the first electric vehicle was built. While not technically a car by today’s standards, this electrically powered carriage was made by a Scottish inventor who fitted single-use batteries to the carriage, which made a vast difference to the horse-drawn carriages of the time.
Three years later, it was a train and not a car that made progress towards the use of electrical power. An American DC electrical motor was fitted to the locomotive as a way to power it. This was the first properly functional electrical vehicle as previous iterations were only models or small-scale. For a while, there was very little progress made, other than the invention of the lead-acid storage battery in 1859, until in 1884, fifty-six years after the original roots, the first electric production car used its own rechargeable. A handful of years later, electric cars were introduced in America. For a while, they were greatly preferred because of their silent nature and lack of emissions. During the height of their success during this time, a third of motor vehicles were electric, but that was before the introduction of Ford Motors.
I think, what this shows is that progress comes in fits and starts. That what is new may just be an improvement on what has already been. Progress works in such a way that it is not just one person but rather years of people, passing on knowledge and inspiration that allows the world to make progress into being cleaner, safer, and healthier. We explore so much of the world for so many different reasons. I think it is great that we are trying to keep this planet safe as we do so.