Evolution of the Automobile — When you think of the very first car, what do you imagine? Maybe a car made out of tree branches with stone wheels, powered by Fred Flintstone’s feet? Or a quaint little buggy with thin, oversized tires driven by a man wearing a top hat?
Evolution of the Automobile
What did the very first cars look like, and how have they changed over the years? They’re probably a little different than you’d think!
Steam and Electricity Power the Earliest Vehicles (1700s-1890s)
You may be surprised to find electric vehicles aren’t a new concept. The first automobiles actually ran on steam and electricity. You may also be surprised to learn the first vehicles were developed in the late 1700s.
Those first “vehicles” were powered by steam. It was an energy source that had been used for many years to power trains. However, it wasn’t until the 1870s that steam power became more practical for small vehicles. Despite improvements, there were still a lot of shortcomings. Steam-powered vehicles took a very long time to start up and the range was limited.
In the early 1800s, inventors around the world began building electric-powered buggies. A few decades later inventors in England and France created vehicles that were much closer to modern-day EVs. In 1890, William Morrison built the first electric car in the U.S. The car could go 14 miles per hour and fit six people. It was very rudimentary, but it got interest going in America.
Within 10 years a third of the vehicles in the U.S. were electric. Electric vehicles were popular because they weren’t as difficult daihatsujakbar to start as steam and gas combustion engines and operation didn’t involve difficult gear shifts. Like today, the first EVs were quiet and didn’t emit smelly air pollution.
Meanwhile, in 1898, Ferdinand Porsche did something revolutionary. He created the first hybrid vehicle that was powered by electricity and gas. It was a blueprint for the hybrids that would be built more than 100 years later.