Although we tend to think of electric cars as being something completely modern, they were in fact some of the earliest types of motorized vehicle. At the beginning of the twentieth-century electric cars were actually more popular than cars with an internal combustion engine as they were more comfortable to ride in. However, as cars fueled by petrol increased in importance. Electric cars declined. The situation became such that electric vehicles were only used for certain specific purposes – as fork-lift trucks, ambulances and urban delivery vehicles, for example.
Although electricity declined in use in road vehicles, it steadily grew in importance as a means of powering trains. Switzerland, for example, was quick to develop an electrified train system, encouraged in this no doubt by the fact that it had no coal or oil resources of its own.
Nowadays there is renewed interest in Electricity as a means of powering road vehicles. Why is this case? Well, undoubtedly economic reasons are of considerable importance. The cost of oil has risen so sharply that there is a strong financial imperative to look for an alternative. However, there are also environmental motivations. Emissions from cars re-blamed in large part for – among other things – the destruction of the ozone layer and the resultant rise in temperatures in the Polar Regions. A desire not to let things get any worse is also encouraging research into designing effective electric transport.