The history of the electric car: from its origins to the present day

The electric car, far from being a novelty, has deep roots dating back to the 19th century. Since its humble beginnings, it has had its ups and downs, but its history is marked by constant innovation and technological advances. Stations-e invites you to delve into the past to understand how this silent, non-polluting alternative became a major force on the automotive market.

The first steps (1830-1910)

The story begins in the 1830s, when Robert Anderson designed the first prototype electric vehicle based on a horse-drawn carriage. In 1834, American Thomas Davenport created the first electric locomotive. However, it wasn’t until 1852 that the first commercial model of electric car appeared. At that time, vehicles were not yet equipped with rechargeable batteries.

The crucial invention of the rechargeable lead-acid battery by Gaston Planté in 1859 marked a turning point. Further progress by Camille Faure in 1881 made the electric car viable by making it rechargeable. In 1881, three Frenchmen, including Camille Faure, developed an electric car model. Competition arose between combustion, steam and electric cars.

In 1899, Camille Jenatzy’s electric car “La Jamais Contente” broke the speed record, topping 100 km/h. By 1900, electric cabs were on the streets of New York, capturing 38% of the American automobile market. At the time, electric cars were considered superior to combustion-powered cars because of their ease of starting and absence of black smoke.

However, with the launch of the Ford T in 1908, symbolizing cheap gasoline, the electric car was put on the back burner for almost 40 years.

Back on stage (1966-1990)

The turning point came in the 1960s, when pollution and environmental concerns led the US Congress to recommend environmentally-friendly cars in 1966. In 1973, the first oil crisis and the OPEC embargo stimulated interest in electric cars. Despite prototypes such as the electric Renault R5 in 1973, the craze waned when oil prices plummeted.


In 1990, California passed the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) law, encouraging manufacturers to produce green vehicles. General Motors launched the EV1 in 1996, but most projects failed, marking the advent of hybrid models.

The modern era (2008-present)

In 2008, Nissan presents the Leaf, the world’s first commercial electric car. Tesla followed with the Electric Roadster, with a range of 340 km. Since 2010, the modern era of the electric car has begun. Manufacturers relaunch hybrid models, but this time the market responds favorably.

From 2015 to the present day, the growth of electric cars has been phenomenal, supported by constant technological advances. Charging stations and networks are also expanding. In the face of major environmental challenges, the electric car is no longer a vision of the future, but today’s reality.

The history of the electric car is littered with challenges and twists and turns. From its humble beginnings in the 1830s to its central role in today’s automotive revolution, the electric car has come a long way to become a credible and necessary alternative in the fight against greenhouse gas emissions. Be part of this shift towards cleaner, more sustainable mobility by opting for the electric car today. Stations-e can provide you with charging stations!

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