Fossil fuels are used to produce more than eighty-five percent of the world’s energy. This is a state of affairs that can not continue for much longer, for a variety of reasons. First and foremost among them, is that fossil fuels are not a renewable resource. Eventually, the global supply will be exhausted, and it will take millions of years to begin replenishing that supply. Secondly, these fuels create carbon dioxide as a byproduct, releasing billions of tonnes of the greenhouse gas into the atmosphere each year. The damage being done to the environment by this reckless use of fossil fuels is becoming the driving force in the development of more efficient electric vehicles.
The first electric motor was invented in 1827 by the Hungarian priest Ányos Jedlik and was used to power a small automobile. Less than twenty years later the first patents were being issued for locomotives powered by rails used to conduct electricity. Electric cars were not mass produced however until the early twentieth century, when the first electric cars capable of competing with gasoline powered vehicles entered the market. Unfortunately for the producers of these vehicles, Henry Ford’s implementation of mass production of his gas-powered cars significantly lowered the costs when compared to their electric counterparts. This status quo then lasted for nearly a hundred years.
Electricity-powered trains have remained the norm throughout the years, and the technology involved has continually evolved in order to keep pace with internal combustion engines. Electric cars on the other hand have stagnated for most of the twentieth century, remaining an experimental curiosity until the couple of decades. In 2006, a movie was released by Sony called ‘Who Killed the Electric Car?’, examining the factors that had led to the abandonment of the development of viable electric automobiles. It detailed the role of car manufacturers, oil companies, and the United States government in limiting the deployment of this technology. Perhaps as a result of this, in 2010 Nissan introduced the Leaf, an all-electric car producing no emissions whatsoever. Now, eight years later, the Leaf is the best-selling highway capable electric vehicle in history, with over 300,000 units sold across the globe.
The Nissan Leaf proved the viability of producing and selling all-electric cars to the general population. Piggybacking off this unexpected success, Tesla released its Model S in 2012. With over two hundred thousand sold, the Model S is the second highest selling electric car of all time. The success of this car helped prove to investors that Tesla could indeed be profitable as a manufacturer of only electric cars, and indeed that electric cars are the future of the automobile industry. While other car companies have been in decline for years, Tesla is growing at a steady pace, developing the kind of technologies that the world will run on for the rest of the century. Someday soon, all vehicles will be powered by electricity, and fossil fuels will be remembered in the history books as the obsolete resources of a more primitive society.