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Why You Don't Drive An Electric Car

At one time in the 1900s, a third of cars in major cities were powered by electric motors. Today, only about 1% of cars are fully electric. Why did we end up with gasoline-powered cars?
October 8, 2012, 5am PDT | Chris Steins | @urbaninsight
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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

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Published on Tuesday, October 2, 2012 in The New York Times
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