In the early 1900s, a series of unfortunate business events drove the country's largest electric vehicle carmaker -- called the Electric Vehicle Company -- into bankruptcy, and it devastated the electric car industry.
"Investors, soured by their experience with the E.V.C., swore they'd never put money into the industry again, and in the lull in electric-car development that followed, gasoline-car companies improved their technology and made their vehicles cheaper", writes Maggie Koerth-Baker of The New York Times. "Over the next 20 years, Americans formed a new idea of what a car was. And from that point on, right up to today, it was hard to get them to try anything else."
So will the US ever get back to electric cars? Koerth-Baker thinks it's possible to change both the infrastructure and culture that supports gasoline-powere cars: "The trick is to not expect people to jump straight from all-gasoline to all-electric. What's necessary is a transitional step that makes electric cars operate more like the cars we're used to driving... [and] hybrids will ultimately help us make that jump."
Thanks to Daniel Lippman