Most people believe that electric cars are a modern innovation, but that’s faaaaar from the truth. As a matter of fact, the history of the electric car stems all the way back to 1897 when electric taxis weaved through the streets of New York City.
And guess what? Companies like the Columbia Automobile Company (the #1 electric automaker at the time) were going all in on the electric craze. Just take a look at their Columbia Brougham. The Brougham was equipped with a Tonneau, 4 passenger seating, and twin electric motors that were situated at the rear of the car. It sold for $3,500. The Brougham- along with a few other major models- helped to make the electric car popular, accounting for 28 percent of the 4,192 vehicles on the road in 1900.
However, like a strike of lightning, all of this quickly vanished.
And it all happened for one reason: gasoline powered engines were more cost effective. That’s because in the early 1900s the world didn’t have the technological skills. Electric cars couldn’t compete with the convenience, strength, and power of the gasoline fueled engine. So, for the next 100 years, electric cars faded off into oblivion, seemingly dead for all time.
Flash forward to modern times…
In a world of cell phones and new age batteries and limitless technology, the electric car has become relevant once again. Of course, none of this could have happened without the persistence and desire of Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla Motors (the world’s premier electric car manufacturer).
For the first time in 100 years, it seems that Musk has breathed life into this dead art form. But not only has he revitalized the forgotten electric car, he may have created the best car in all of history with the new Tesla Model S. Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes says, “Comparing the Tesla Model S to other cars is like comparing an iPhone to a desk phone.”
Since its debut in June 2012, the Model S has won the World Green Car of the Year, Motor Trend Car of the Year, Automobile Magazine Car of the Year, and it was named by Time Magazine as one of the 25 best inventions of the Year 2012. On top of those numerous accolades, it has received Consumer Reports highest car rating EVER.
The Model S has been rewarded with these honors because it is just as powerful and efficient as some of the very best cars out on the road, while doing this with NO engine, NO transmission, and NO tailpipe. Instead, the Model S operates off of 7,000 battery cells linked to an electric motor that can be found on the bottom side of the vehicle.
These cells- which operate off of solar power- allow the Tesla to drive for 250 miles before needing to be recharged and give the vehicle an amazing 0-60 time of 4.0 seconds. But best of all, this vehicle reduces pollution and eliminates the need for gas, saving us all money at the pump. Musk is even at work trying to build a network of solar energy stations around the country that will allow drivers to recharge for free!
So far, Musk has taken the first steps in helping Tesla become the first successful American startup car company in 90 years. But now, a new task awaits. Can Musk make Tesla a real competitor in the auto industry, capable of outselling Volkswagen, GM, Toyota, and Ford?
Currently, he is being held back by production costs (most of which come from the vehicle’s battery), causing his vehicle to be priced up near $100,000. But, he is already working to change this. Recently, he invested $5 billion into his very own battery manufacturing plant that will make more lithium ion batteries than everywhere on earth combined.
Right now, the future seems bright. As of December 2013, Tesla has sold more than 25,000 unites, and they’ve also won monthly sales figures in countries like Norway. With 600 more Model S’s rolling off the line weekly, Elon Musk hopes that things will continue to grow because he believes that he has the best car on the road and one that can change the world.