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The History Of Green Cars

When the carriage and the horse were phased out in the 1800s, more and more manufacturers started to believe that cars of the future were going to be powered by steam, just like locomotives. During those days, one of the most popular manufacturers was the legendary Stanley Motor Carriage Company, known for its Stanley Steamer, which was produced from 1896 until 1924.

Stanley Steamer

The very first electric carriage was launched in 1832, and until 1839, electric vehicles became more and more popular in Europe thanks to the fact that they ran considerably quieter and a lot smoother in comparison to other cars. North America followed that trend in the late 1800s, and the cars made by William Morrison and AL Ryker were the most popular. In 1897, electric commercial vehicles were launched, as part of NY’s taxi fleet.

Porsche Semper Vivus

1900 was the year when the first hybrid car in the world was revealed, Ferdinand Porsche’s Semper Vivus. It had two 3.5 hp electric hub motors. The second iteration of the model had 4 hub motors, making it the very first 4WD car. The 80-volt bank of 44 batteries had a curb weight of 1800 kg and there were no possibilities of charging from an external source, but it was charged via a rear-mounted internal combustion engine.

Detroit Electric Coupe

During the early 20th century, the Detroit Electric Coupe was probably the most popular electric vehicle and one of the drivers of this car was Henry Ford’s wife. On a single charge, the car could have been driven for 80 miles, managing to reach a top speed of 20 mph. During the turn of the 20th century, people bought more electric-powered cars than any other types of vehicles.

It all changed in 1907 when Ford began making the legendary Model T, which marked the end of electric cars for several decades. Mass-production gasoline-powered cars were 50% cheaper and their capabilities were far better than any other green car on the market, thanks to the fact that they could have be driven for significantly longer distances and were capable of achieving higher top speeds.

Citroen Rosalie

The diesel engine was developed and patented in 1893 by Rudolph Diesel. However, the first diesel-powered passenger car was launched 40 years later, when Citroen rolled out the Rosalie model. General Motors started working on cars that were powered by diesel engines, while in 1936; the German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz launched the 260D, marking the beginning of a solid alternative to gas engines.

Vespa 400

Green cars were revived during the late 50s and early 60s with the introduction of the Vespa 400, which was manufactured between 1956 and 1961. More than 28,000 units were sold and it will go down in history as the only car of those times that was produced by a motorbike company. Built between 1957 and 1964, the Messerschmitt KR200 had a single-cylinder two-stroke power unit. There were other popular green cars during those days, like Mini and the Austin Healey Spirite.

Car manufacturers started seeking alternative fuels in the early 70s when the oil crisis kicked in. There were lots of electric cars presented, but most of them had limited capabilities and futuristic designs, thus failing to grab the attention of the large audience.

In the 80s era, more and more attempts were made to develop green cars. There was even a competition for solar-powered vehicles, which was held in Switzerland between 1985 and 1995.

Citroen Citela

Moving on to the 90s, in 1991, BMW rolled out two battery-powered E1 concepts, but they never made it to the production phase. Later on that same year, Citroen launched the Citela, which was considered the car of the future, managing to offer a driving range of 130 miles and hitting a top speed of 70 mph. It failed because it relied heavily on assistance from the companies in charge of delivering electricity, companies that weren’t very pleased with the idea.

Peugeot 106 Electric

Between 1996-1999 GM produced its very first electric vehicle, known as the EV1. There were other cars launched during the 90s, like the Fiat Downtown and most importantly, the Peugeot 106 Electric, which was quite popular in France.

Toyota Prius

The turn of the millennium brought more and more green cars, especially hybrid vehicles that offer the perfect balance between conventional-powered and electric cars. Important examples are without any doubt the Toyota Prius, followed by the Toyota Camry. The first one became the world’s number one selling hybrid in 2007. The hybrid concept was introduced to bigger cars, like the Lexus RX400h, a serious off-roader.

Tesla Roadster

BMW introduced in 2006 a hydrogen-powered 7-Series, and one year later, Ford revealed the Airstream, sporting a lithium battery and a hydrogen fuel cell. Electric cars later on became fast, with the introduction of the Venturi Fetish, a car that was capable of doing the 0-60 mph sprint in less than five seconds. Another fast EV is the Tesla Roadster, which can accelerate to 60 mph in only 3.9 seconds, before reaching a top speed of 125 mph. With the batteries full, the car can be driven for up to 244 miles (393 km).

Chevrolet Volt / Nissan Leaf

Nowadays, everyone is talking about the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt. Both of them were launched in December last year. The Leaf, an all-electric car, uses a front-mounted electric motor that drives the wheels, powered by a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that generates 120 hp (90 kW). 0-60 mph is done in 9.9 seconds, while top speed is about 93 mph (150 km/h). EPA’s official range for the Leaf is 73 miles (117 km).

The Chevrolet Volt is a plug-in hybrid vehicle, capable of doing up to 50 miles on electric mode. The electric drive unit uses a 220-cell, 16 kWh lithium-ion battery, generating 150 hp and a peak torque of 273 lb.-ft. Once the battery is dead, a 1.4-liter gasoline engine kicks in, which generates 80 hp and increases the Volt’s range up to 310 miles.

The future will probably bring us EVs with an increased driving range and less time necessary for charging the batteries.

Source: TheGreenCarWebsite

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