These Cars Get 114 Miles Per Gallon
Decades before gasoline-powered cars ruled the market, motorists had another four-wheeled alternative to the horse.
It didn’t putt, pop, roar or backfire. Powered by watts, it simply hummed.
And for a time, those early electric vehicles outsold their gasoline powered counterparts by 10:1.
In fact, with mileage this high, they may be poised to overtake their gasoline-powered competitors …
Thirty Years before the Model T, Electric Vehicles Ruled the Road
At the dawn of the automobile age, electric vehicles were No. 1 by a wide margin.
Thanks to the invention of the rechargeable, lead acid battery by French physicist Gaston Planté in 1859, these electric-powered horseless carriages had a three-decade head start on the internal combustion engine.
Since most trips were short, vehicles such as the Columbia Runabout, which could go 40 miles on a single charge and run at speeds up to 15 m.p.h., were practical, as well as clean and quiet.
Even Clara Ford, Henry’s wife, drove one: a 1914 Detroit Electric, which could last 80 miles before recharging.
But Henry’s Model T, along with other early horseless carriages, soon eclipsed their battery-powered brethren. The Model T, in particular, was so affordable it turned the automobile from a toy for the rich to a necessity for the working class, and 15 million Model Ts later the electric vehicle was no more.
Outside of electric delivery trucks, dubbed “milk floats,” in England, necessary due to fuel shortages, electric vehicles would only be produced by small manufacturers in low quantities for the next few decades.
The Long and Winding Road Back to the Top
It was only when environmental concerns surfaced that the electric cars began to roll again. Kicked off by General Motors’ EV1 in the 1990s, manufacturers began rushing all-electric vehicles, hybrids (which use both electric and gas motors), and plug-in hybrids to market. Big-name manufacturers such as Honda, Toyota, and others replaced gas tanks with batteries as demand began to rise.
But it would be a real-world Tony Stark, billionaire Elon Musk, who would dazzle the world with the polished, luxurious Tesla, an advanced electric vehicle with a range of up to 300 miles on a single charge, who added sizzle and sex appeal to the industry.
Musk’s vision is the one leading the parade. His vehicles are praised by everyone from consumer and auto publications to politicians and automotive executives. The company’s stock, up a whopping 1,048% in the last four years, is one of the darlings of Wall Street.
And the world is, once again, starting to embrace vehicles that run on electricity.
The appeal is obvious. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, electricity to power electric vehicles is less than one-fourth of the cost of gasoline. The Nissan Leaf, for example, is rated at the equivalent of 114 miles per gallon by the EPA.
Currently, according to Plug-In 2014, the premiere electric vehicle conference in the nation, there are 225,000 plug-in cars on American roads. In Santa Clara County (California), over 10% of new vehicle sales are plug-ins.
In Europe, plug-in sales doubled from 2011 to 2012, then doubled again to almost 50,000 sales in 2013. In Norway and the Netherlands, electric vehicles account for five percent of all sales.
Banking on a 31.5% Compound Annual Growth Rate
And those numbers are expected to skyrocket.
Navigant Research estimates that global electric vehicle sales will reach 6.6 million annually by 2020, about five percent of global vehicle sales. The U.S. is expected to be the biggest market, accounting for 1.1 million vehicles alone. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects that 20 million electric vehicles will be on the road by then.
By even the most conservative forecasts, sales of electric vehicles are expected to far outpace the general market. Navigant Research forecasts global compound annual growth rates of 31.5% for battery powered vehicles from now until 2020, far outpacing the automotive industry’s predicted 2.4% CAGR over the same time period.
And that doesn’t include sales of electric two wheelers, such as bicycles, scooters and motorcycles. Currently, the industry sells two million two-wheeled electric vehicles every year. Even Harley Davidson, the symbol of American motorcycle iron, recently introduced an electric motorcycle.
By any measure, this is a huge and growing market. Research firm MarketsandMarkets pegs it at $103.13 billion by 2017. IDTechEx forecasts $178.9 billion in electric vehicle sales alone in 10 years, plus tens of billions more in infrastructure costs.
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