Electric cars are cutting-edge technology these days, and it seems like people everywhere are switching. However it might come as a surprise to learn that 118 years ago, 38% of all cars were electric. Porsche’s first car was electric. The fastest car in the world was electric. Henry Ford and Thomas Edison collaborated on an electric car. Electric cars were the future – a century in the past.

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In 1900, 40% of cars were powered by steam, 38% by electricity and a mere 22% by gasoline. By 1912, there were nearly 39,000 electric cars on the road. Electric cars were popular because they were quiet, didn’t require a cumbersome crank start, and had no smelly fumes or smoke. An electric car could go 65.79 mph (a record set in 1898) and some had a range of up to 100 miles on a single charge. Since roads outside of cities were rough or non-existent, electric cars were perfect for urban dwellers.

Related: Porsche’s First Car Built in 1898 Was Electric!

At one point, Henry Ford was determined to create an affordable electric car. “Within a year, I hope, we shall begin the manufacture of an electric automobile. I don’t like to talk about things which are a year ahead, but I am willing to tell you something of my plans. The fact is that Mr. Edison and I have been working for some years on an electric automobile which would be cheap and practicable,” he said in 1914. It’s a shame that Ford’s EV never made it into production – imagine how much it could have changed the vehicle market. Edison, who worked with Ford on the EV, believed that the electric automobile was the transportation of the future. Sadly, it was Ford’s mass-produced Model T that ultimately killed the electric car.

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At their peak, there were many EV manufacturers competing in the market. Detroit Electric was churning out electric cars, Denver-based Fritchle motors were proud of their 100-mile range battery, President Woodrow Wilson owned a Milburn Electric vehicle, and New York-based Babcock had its own line of EVs. Sadly, electric cars started to disappear in the 1920s as gas automobiles became the most affordable option. Gas guzzlers also had the benefit of being able to go much further than an electric car, (a problem electric vehicles are still working on tackling), which was important as roads became better outside of cities. It wasn’t until gas shortages in the 1970s that people started to explore alternative-fuel cars once again.

Via Clean Technica

Images via Porsche, Wikimedia and Wikimedia