Before Canada’s auto industry was born, the fledgling American productivity sold 4,200 auto-buggies in 1900. Of these, 38 percent were electric-, 40 percent steam-, and 22 percent gasoline-powered.
Not counting the cumbersome steam vehicles of the time, the ratio of electric cars was almost 64% to 36% of gasoline-powered vehicles.
Sales of electric motor cars peaked in 1912 with nearly 34,000. In addition to these cars, thousands of electric trucks and buses delivered goods and passengers across Canada and the USA. (separate numbers for hybrid vehicles only are not available)
BTW, we call everything with an internal combustion engine (ICE) a motor-vehicle, whereas a motor is an electrical device. Just a misnomer from the time when ”motor”-vehicles were the favorite mode of transportation?
What we now term as alternative transportation (AT), namely electric vehicles (EV), was the norm 100 year ago.
In 1914, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison were developing an electric version of the Model T. Unfortunately — as we realize now — a mysteriously suspicious fire destroyed only the building where the original ET (?) was being worked on, and all motor-car progress made to that day was destroyed.
World War II provided no time for batteries being recharged overnight, and by then, the petroleum industry supplied sufficient amounts of quickly replenished liquid energy to cause the decline and eventual demise of true motorcars.
This should help us realize that Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV) or pure battery-electrics (BEV) are not a new, unproven way for the automobile industry, or for motorists. (there is that OLD word again!)
Before batteries got a chance to reach their potential, - perhaps between the two World Wars - the “infernal consumption engine” (ICE) silenced the quiet majority with its noisy explosions, as detractors heard it?
The majority of vehicles of the time - electric-motor cars- still needed heavy rechargeable batteries, and steam cars needed firing up.
The electric starter had uncomplicated automobiles into a ‘touch and go’ convenient conveyance; Consequently, the ICE age came upon us, and only sporadic attempts at electrification of automobiles were attempted until 1965.
We now know that an explosion is an instantaneous, violent expansion, whereas combustion is a very controlled ignition and expansion of a gas & air mixture – in automobile engines- or so we like to believe.
During the 1920s, one of automobildom’s unsung pioneers, Harry Ricardo, (later Sir Harry) had literally started to look inside running internal combustion engines, to understand and improve their function and behavior. His company is now a worldwide R&D firm, helping automakers to come up with better solutions.
The last few decades have changed the auto industry in a big way; Climate concerns, dwindling petroleum resources and the resulting need for a cleaner, greener way for the future caused alternative transportation to become the rallying cry.
Society demands and governments now regulate the way to a sustainable future for developed and developing countries to enjoy the freedom of personal mobility.