Electric vehicles have been around since the very beginning of automotive history. But despite a promising start, the electric motor lost favor with the internal combustion engine and, from the First World War onwards, suffered only pinpricks for almost a hundred years. Still, there were some cool finds, even from well-known brands such as Volkswagen and Fiat.
The first electric car was actually a horse-drawn carriage without a horse. It was invented by the German inventor Andreas Flocken. The Flocken Elektrowagen that he built in 1888 had a power of one whole horsepower and could drive electrically at a speed of up to 15 km/h. The fact that Flocken stopped developing electric cars in 1903 had nothing to do with the popularity of the genre. At that time, there were more EVs on the road than combustion engine cars.
Surprising: the first car ever driven faster than 100 km/h is electric. In his La Jamais Contente (Never Satisfied), the Belgian Camille Jenatzy clocked a speed of 105.882 km/h near Paris. He took exactly 34 seconds (measured with stopwatches and flags) to cover a distance of one kilometer. Like today's fastest EVs, the La Jamais Contente had two electric motors. Together they produced 68 hp. Note the external difference with the Flocken Elektrowagen; the body is streamlined and shaped like a torpedo.
Hun, isn't this a Renault Dauphine!? Well, not quite. The American Henney Motor Company's request to the Renault importer was to deliver 100 cars to the factory without engines. An electric motor was placed in this space (in the back). It was a brave attempt by the Americans to get people interested in an EV again, but the Henney Motor Company was a flop. Less than 50 copies of the Kilowatt - with a range between 64 and 80 kilometers - found an owner.
With some old news items, you get the feeling that they were written yesterday. Already in the 1960s, there were loud complaints about the polluted city centers, and the Provo movement in Amsterdam was particularly active. Maybe they no longer smoke their own weed because of the gasoline fumes... Luud Schimmelpenninck came up with an environmentally friendly solution. His witkar or Elektriese Munt-Oto was powered by a 3 hp electric motor and could travel 15 kilometers on a single battery charge. 38 examples were built, the last Witkar was taken off the streets in 1988.
After the oil crisis in 1973, there was suddenly a renewed interest in electric cars. Volkswagen led the way and built an electric Golf as early as 1976. The 75 hp petrol engine was removed and replaced by a 20 hp electric motor. The electric Golf was nothing more than a finger exercise; with its top speed of 80 km/h it was passed on all sides on the highway and if he were to mention the range of 48 kilometers, even the very best salesman would not have stood a chance of getting an order. Not to mention the 12 hour charging time...
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In 1990, diesel engines still blew out their soot clouds unhindered and you only had to worry about an empty battery if you forgot to turn off your lights. Fiat was already flirting a bit with the electric car. The Fiat Panda Elettra weighed 1150 kilos (over 400 kilos more than a regular one) and with its power of 16 hp it could not go further than a top speed of 70 km/h. Furthermore, the battery packs were so large that part of the luggage space had to be sacrificed and there was no rear seat. But the Panda Elettra already had a system that recovered energy when braking or when driving down the mountain.
Still one of the most controversial electric cars ever produced. In 1996, GM seemed dead serious about its plans to revive the EV. The EV1 had a fairly powerful electric motor (137 hp) and a nice top speed (129 km/h). The head office responded with surprise at the enthusiasm for this car; GM expected 80 interested parties, but 24,000 people wanted one. The selected group of customers were positive about the EV1… and yet the entire stock was ultimately destroyed. A film was released about the still shadowy cause: Who Killed the Electric Car.
Where does the idea that a 'new' technology should be presented in a futuristic package come from? Maybe that Mitsubishi itself was so shocked by its own iMiEV (innovative Mitsubishi Electrical Vehicle) that it immediately stopped developing electric cars. It is hard to imagine that its range of 160 kilometers was still quite decent in 2010. Peugeot and Citroën released their own version of this remarkable plug-in with the i-On and the C-Zero.
The idea behind the Fluence ZE was smart: charging takes too long (fast charging was still a utopia more than ten years ago) and at the same time the EV driver has no time to lose. And so you build a battery exchange station. Renault did this together with the Israeli Better Place. The colossus was built near Schiphol, and taxi drivers with a Fluence had a full battery within five minutes. Well thought out! But outside Renault saw no brand of bread in the concept and Better Place went bankrupt in 2013. Now the switching station is Nio's claim to fame.
The first car with a decent range (455 kilometers, NEDC) and an acceptable price was the Kia e-Niro. It became a resounding success in the Netherlands. Business drivers stood in line for additional tax benefits; Even before the e-Niro was registered, Kia had already received 3,000 orders. But the electric one was also popular among private individuals Be Niro popular, and even car journalists got a little excited. We wrote this in 2019: "The plug-in Kia makes us even more enthusiastic about electric driving thanks to its wide range, its ingenious regenerative braking system, its excellent comfort and its excellent steering."
This post was last modified on October 20, 2023 5:15 am
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