Electric Vehicles – Looking Back, Looking Forward At The Smithsonian

EV1 Electric Car On Display At The Smithsonian

EV1 Electric Car On Display At The Smithsonian (image: Jeff Tinsley, Smithsonian Institution)

Bet you didn’t know that an electric car was the nation’s best-selling vehicle back in ’04.  1904, that is.  If you think the late 1990′s were the dawn of this technology, think again – electric vehicles have been around for over a century.  A new display at the Smithsonian Museum of American History, part of their “America On The Move” exhibit, showcases the evolution of electric transportation.

Riker Electric Automobile

Riker Electric Automobile, c.1900 (image: Smithsonian Institution)

In the early 1900′s a car buyer could choose among automobiles powered by steam, gasoline, and electricity.  Many wealthier customers (especially those living in urban areas) opted for electric cars because they were relatively simple to operate.  But interestingly, by the 1920′s, gasoline had become the most popular choice for an all-too-familiar reason:  electric cars had limited range, and gas stations were much more common than electrical power stations.

EV1 Electric Car On Display At The Smithsonian

EV1 Electric Car On Display At The Smithsonian (image: Jeff Tinsley, Smithsonian Institution)

Fast forward a century to today’s automobile showrooms, and the electric vehicle has made a serious comeback.  Shifting market forces like pollution control measures, in combination with advances in hybrid motors and battery technology, have combined to make electric cars a practical option once again.  And today’s gasoline-free cars aren’t high-priced prototype novelties like the options from just a few years ago – they’re exceptionally efficient vehicles available to the general public.

Columbia Mark LX Electric Car, c.1906

Columbia Mark LX Electric Car, c.1906 (image: Smithsonian Institution)

Stop by the Smithsonian Museum of American History to check out the exhibit if you’re in Washington, or visit the Smithsonian website for more info.

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