An Abridged History of Electric Cars

Electric cars may seem like the hot new thing, but their history runs deeper. Whether you’re the owner of an electric car, considering buying one or simply have an interest in vehicle history, there’s a lot to learn if we go back in time.

The First Electric Cars (1800s)

Electric cars were introduced over 100 years ago, long before gas cars even appeared on the market.

They started in the 1830s in Scotland, where Robert Anderson invented the motorized carriage. It wasn’t rechargeable like modern electric vehicles. Instead, it was mostly meant to impress people, as it moved without an animal pulling it.

In 1841, Robert Davidson made the prototype for an electric locomotive, and it was powerful — so powerful, in fact, that steam engine workers felt threatened and destroyed it.

Rechargeable batteries came in the 1850s and gave new life to electric vehicles. By 1890, William Morrison would apply for a patent for his electric vehicle. Automakers continued experimenting, from the 1894 “Electrobat” to the rise of electric vehicle motorsports late that same decade.

Names You May Know (1900s)

By the 20th century, famous automakers began to pop up around the globe. Some famous brand names today actually dabbled in making electric vehicles. You may be familiar with Studebaker, Porsche, and General Motors, to name a few.

While the Ford Model T was cheap and quickly produced, electric cars were still being made. In Detroit, the Detroit Electric Company was making plenty of electric cars. They were more expensive but cleaner than the Model T. They were also driven by the rich — including Ford’s own wife!


While gasoline became far more popular after World War II, electric vehicles are obviously returning today. This is because they’re more energy efficient, and many of them are considered luxury vehicles. If you drive an electric car, you can rest assured that they won’t be going away anytime soon since they’ve existed for over a century.

Car Repair Services

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