Electric Cars Come Full Circle

The first automobiles were actually electrically-powered vehicles, indeed an electric car held the land speed record until 1900. The actual first electric vehicle is a little unclear, but it was way back in the early-mid 1800's (a lot earlier than I had assumed), and suitable rechargeable batteries came in around the 1850's.

An electric car circa 1895, image courtesy Wikipedia

Due to the limits of the available technology at the time, the internal combustion engine (diesel and gasoline) took over at the start of the 20th century, and has been largely dominant until very recently. Now that battery technology is improving and other factors (such as environmental concerns) are driving research, we can forsee a mostly/all electric future for the car. 

The electric powertrain is a separate issue from the current push towards "self-driving" cars, but the two mix well since the computers required are electrically powered anyway. 

I have alluded to this in posts elsewhere, but I can easily see a time not so very far from now where individual car ownership will be considered unusual, and where many of us (particularly city dwellers) will maybe rent or lease out a self-driving vehicle (perhaps from a pool of vehicles), and just call one up with an app when we need to get from A to B (basically replacing the taxes and buses of today).

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