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A brief history of the electric car

Did you know the world's first hybrid car was built in 1900?


The Lohner-Porsche, built in 1900, was the world's first hybrid car. Built by Dr Ferdinand Porsche, it ran on batteries and petrol. The Austrian also built the world's first front-wheel drive car. (Image source: Wikipedia)

Woods Dual Power

The Woods Dual Power, also a hybrid, was built in 1916 in Chicago. It too ran on petrol and on batteries. It failed miserably.

Toyota Prius

In the modern age, Toyota is credit with popularising the hybrid or e-car. The Prius (above) is one of the top-selling hybrids in Japan and the US. While eco-conscious, it isn't really thought of as cool. That came later...

Tesla Roadster

Tesla gained worldwide recognition in 2008 when it first launched its electric sports car, the Tesla Roadster. Here finally was a cool e-car.


Volvo recently said it would not launch any new petrol or diesel models after 2019. In photo: Hakan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars.

Volvo V60 Plug-in-Hybrid

Volvo though said it would continue to manufacture petrol & diesel cars from models before 2019. In photo: A Volvo V60 Plug-in-Hybrid.

The Volvo ECC (Environmental Concept Car)

In photo: The Volvo ECC or Environmental Concept Car. It was meant to be a 'study of a safe, environmentally optimised and comfortable family car in the 21st century'

Autolib cars on the road in France

Volvo's announcement was followed by one by the French govt which said it was banning the sale of petrol & diesel cars after 2040.

Hybrid Car in the making (Wikipedia)

But the first hybrid car made in 1900 and they're still not common... Why? We know that they're good for the planet.

Model T

Henry Ford was to blame. He built a better petrol car, one that did away with its predecessors' noise and vibration problems and left the early hybrids in the dust.


In photo: Tesla's Model S, which costs $72,700 or about Rs 47 lakh. Teslas have been expensive so far but they are looking at launching their Model 3 for $35,000 (still expensive at Rs 22.5 lakh) by the end of the year.


E-car sales are beginning to pick up now, in some countries, because of government subsidies.


They will in the end kill the fossil fuel-run car. Volvo's announcement was the first step in that process.