From Vroom to Ping: The Rise of the Electric Car

           Carbon and Climate
electric car

Electric vehicles may seem like a fad, but they’re not a novelty. In fact, the first is thought to have been devised in London in 1884 by British inventor, Thomas Parker. Their popularity spread from there, leading to a boon in the US vehicle market where, in 1900, more than a quarter of the 4,192 cars produced that year were electric. However, they proved to be too expensive once Henry Ford began mass-producing internal-combustion engines and consumers favoured the much cheaper petrol-powered vehicles. This switch might have spelled the end for the electric car were it not for air pollution concerns, which came to the forefront around the middle of the last century.

The 1970s, in particular, were an important decade for the electric vehicle’s resurrection. The US’s Clean Air Act, which required states to limit air pollution, came into force at the beginning of the decade. It was quickly followed in 1972 by the OPEC oil embargo, which affected several countries, among them the UK and the US, and caused petrol prices to skyrocket. As a result, consumers’ interests in alternatively fuelled vehicles were revived. From then on, automakers the world over began producing electric cars, to various degrees of success (and aesthetics, for that matter).

Nowadays, Tesla is the one motor company most often in the news when it comes to electric cars. They first produced their Roadster sports car in 2008, but it came with a hefty price tag. Each consecutive series they’ve manufactured has gone down in price, with their most affordable Model 3 released earlier this year. Still, Tesla has a lot of catching up to do to meet the success of Nissan’s Leaf. The Leaf is currently the world’s best-selling electric vehicle, and Nissan has sold almost 300,000 of them globally since 2010.

It’s clear that drivers are keen to make the switch, and it’s no more evident than in Norway where, in 2016, almost a third of the cars sold there were electric. When it comes to the UK, although we may not be purchasing electric vehicles at the same rate, the Government has made a commitment to ban the sale of diesel and petrol cars by 2040, the goal being to shift to 100% electric car sales. Whether we’re successful in meeting that target or not, it is clear that electric vehicles will stay with us for much longer this time around. For now, it will be interesting to see how the story of the electric vehicle continues to unfold and whether it will reach a point where it is the cheaper alternative to petrol rather than just a more environmentally conscious one.


Sources: The Telegraph, Business Insider, Clean Technica, and Bloomberg

Irena Huseinovic

Irena has been with Alfa Energy since November 2009. In that time, she has been a part of several different teams, starting as a consultant and ending up in her current role as PR & Communications Representative. Through her various roles, she has gained much insight into the workings of the energy market and its effect on businesses. She loves the Alfa Energy culture and has put herself to the task of showing our readers what a great team we are. She’s also our editor and she really really likes the Oxford comma. (To each his own, we guess.)