The golden age of electric vehicles

From the end of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century, Europe and the United States transformed from a self-sufficient agricultural society to a labor-intensive industrialized society, and transportation to meet various needs (people and logistics) emerged as the times require, thus putting forward certain requirements for traffic roads. At that time, the overall condition of traffic roads between cities was very poor. Hard roads suitable for motor vehicles were only available in relatively densely populated cities, while in the vast rural areas around towns, most of them were ordinary dirt roads. It was muddy. Such road conditions objectively limited the range of people's activities, so there was no high requirement for the mileage of motor vehicles at that time. On the other hand, steam engines have been proven unsuitable for automobiles, while gasoline-powered automobiles are just getting started, and many technologies are not yet mature, such as low-quality gasoline, poor distribution of gas stations, loud internal combustion engines and unpleasant emissions. The advantages of high driving mileage and strong power that gasoline cars show today were not apparent at that time. At that time, the 110-volt DC grid was widely distributed, which was also one of the important reasons for the popularity of electric vehicles. Electric vehicles began to rapidly occupy the motor vehicle market, entering the first golden age.

power struggle

The steam engine was first applied to vehicles. In 1786, Cournot invented the world's first steam car. A hundred years later, in 1889, Sepullet invented an instant boiler that could generate steam to drive a vehicle within two minutes, shortening the start-up time, speeding up the vehicle, and improving safety. In 1895, the first real International Grand Prix was held in Paris, and the steam car won the championship. During this period, although steam cars had a great advantage in terms of speed, the steam engine was inseparable from a boiler with a water tank, and at the same time, coal or wood that ensured a certain mileage was loaded as fuel, which was bulky and heavy and difficult to operate. Coupled with the low energy density of coal or wood and the low efficiency of the steam engine at that time, the actual thermal efficiency of the steam car was only 5% to 7%. At the same time, it will continue to emit a lot of smoke and steam when driving, not only passers-by, but even passengers. In addition, the steam engine takes a long time to start, and it is difficult to start at low temperature. The nobles and wealthy who could afford a car at the time preferred other means of transportation, even a horse-drawn carriage. Therefore, in this contest of motor vehicles, steam cars were quickly defeated.

Heavy and bulky steam car

More than half a century after the birth of electric vehicles, the first diesel locomotive appeared in 1886. Diesel locomotives in this period did not have electronic ignition devices, and most of them were started by hand cranks. Not only did they have strong physical strength, but also accidents such as broken arms and broken jawbones often occurred. The working performance of the internal combustion engine is also unstable, and the failures continue. The repair station in the modern sense has not yet appeared, and when the car needs to be repaired, the only way to find a blacksmith shop or cobbler shop is on the streets. There is no muffler or shock absorber, and the car is noisy and vibrates violently when driving. The low level of oil refining and the low quality of gasoline make diesel locomotives emit a pungent odor during driving. Kaiser Wilhelm II once dubbed gasoline cars "stinky cars". In addition, there are no gas stations in the modern sense. There are no large barrels of gasoline for sale. People can only buy gasoline as fuel in hospitals or pharmacies. Diesel locomotives can't drive very far, and there is no advantage in mileage.

In contrast, electric vehicles were favored by the wealthy and upper-class society, the main consumers of motor vehicles at that time, because of their low noise, no "odorous" emissions, good start-up acceleration performance, and little impact from cold climates. , soon became popular. At the beginning of the 20th century, in the car ownership, steam cars accounted for 40%, internal combustion engine cars accounted for 22%, and electric cars accounted for 38%!