In this video, we’re going to take a closer look at the fits and starts electric vehicles have experienced over the past few decades, why some automakers are choosing to make hybrids vs. electric cars, and why all-electric vehicles are likely the future.
The very first electric cars debuted in the early 1800s and began growing in popularity by the end of the century.
But Henry Ford’s mass-produced Model T debuted in 1908 and that, along with the invention of the electric starter for automobiles, quickly helped put an end to the early growth of electric vehicles.
But in the early 1990s, the electric car began experiencing a resurgence.
A 1990 California law said that by 1998, 2% of the vehicles that large manufacturers produced for sale in California had to be zero-emissions vehicles. And the percentage would increase to 10% by 2003.
The problem was that the electric cars that automakers created in the wake of this new law were expensive to produce. And even the most popular ones, like GM’s EV1, only had a range of about 100 miles , which was far below the average range of gas-powered vehicles.
To make matters worse for electric cars, gas prices were very low in the mid-1990s. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in California at the end of 1996, was less than a $1.20 per gallon.
Those low gas prices — combined with a strong U.S. economy — meant that American drivers were looking to buy larger vehicles without much concern for gas mileage.
Additionally, many of the strict requirements first introduced by California were challenged in court, and eventually watered-down.
But the electric car came back with a vengeance in 2006 when Tesla did something that all other automakers had failed to do. It made the electric car cool.
The company’s first vehicle, the all-electric Roadster had a range of 245 miles, which matched the lower end range for gas-powered engines. Oh, and it went from 0-60 mph in just 3.7 seconds.
In this video, the Motley Fool team takes a look at the investment case for Tesla: