The History Of Electric Cars – 21st Century

This is the final piece of my three-parter on the history of electric cars. Here, we move up to the present day and the exciting developments that have happened in the last few years, where EVs are close to becoming mainstream.


G.M. and DaimlerChrysler sue the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to repeal the ZEV mandate passed in 1990. The Bush Administration joins the suit.

G.M. announces that it will not renew leases on its EV1 cars and that it plans to reclaim the cars by the end of 2004.


A heap of crushed EV1s

On February 16, electric vehicle enthusiasts begin a “Don’t Crush” vigil to stop G.M. from demolishing 78 impounded EV1s in Burbank, California. They remove and crush the vehicles 28 days later.

The history of the EV1, a remarkable EV for the time, is documented in the film, Who Killed the Electric Car?

Incidentally, Chelsea Sexton, one of the EV1 owners and involved in the making of the film is now a presenter on the


Elon Musk founds Tesla in 2004, and begins to produce the Tesla Roadster, in an effort to show that EVs can be high performance cars.

The original Roadster design was actually made from a Lotus Elise chassis. The was very successful, and made a big impression across the sector.

Tesla got back to work, next producing the Model-S, a mass produced luxury saloon.

Tesla Roadster Specs
Top Speed:130 mph+ (original)
Range:200-250 miles
Charge Time:3.5 hours
Battery size:53 KWh
Tesla Roadster



The first Nissan Leaf is produced – arguably the first mass produced, affordable electric car. Until recently, it was the best selling EV of all time (a title now taken by the Tesla Model 3). The Leaf also had a rapid charging ability from early on, and was important in encouraging the installation of public charging infrastructure around the world.

Nissan Leaf Specsundefined
Top Speed:93 mph
Range:73 miles (EPA)
Charge Time:30 minutes to 80% (50KW Rapid)
4 hours to 100% (7KW)
Battery size:24KWh


Tesla ship the Model 3. This was designed to be Tesla’s first affordable, mass market car. It has been very successful, outselling the rival BMW 3-series in the US. It’s now the best selling EV of all time.

Tesla hit their million vehicle mark in 2020.

Model 3 Specsundefined
Top Speed:162 mph
Range:220 – 325 miles
Charge Time:130 – 720 mph (up to 250KW)
30 mph at 7 KW.
Price:$35,400 – $56,990
Tesla Model 3


Porsche announce their first electric car for many years, the Taycan, having made some notable and very fast hybrids. This is a return to the roots of the company – being as Ferdinand Porsche’s first car the P1, was an EV, when built more than 100 years ago.

Porsche Taycan Specsundefined
Top Speed:162 mph
0-60 Time:2.6s
Range:256 miles (WLTP)
Charge Time:22.5 minutes
(5-80%, 270kW max, or 470 mph).
Price:$150,000 – $185,000
Porsche Taycan


Ford announce the Mustang Mach-E. This is a symbolic move by Ford, who also announced an electric version of the F150 pick up truck, the best selling vehicle in America.

Mustang Specsundefined
Top Speed:112 mph
Range: 280 – 370 miles
Charge Time (pro model):30 minutes 20-80% @150 KW
Battery Size:76 – 99 KWh
Price:£40,270 to £56,000.
Ford Mustang Mach-E



Lots of affordable cars are arriving in the next year or two. Here’s a list with their real world expected ranges. The ones I’ve listed are primarily smaller city cars aimed at the European market. There are however many larger SUV and crossover types, as well as a few pickup trucks. 2020 and 21 may well be the tipping point where BEVs become mainstream – certainly almost every manufacturer now has plans to create at least one EV model in their range.

CarReal Life Range (
Peugeot e208 / 2008180/165 mi
Skoda Citi-Go125 mi
Vauxhall Corsa-e175 mi
Mini Electric115 mi
Seat Mii125 mi
Honda-e125 mi
VM ID.3170 mi+
Fiat 500155 mi
Seat el-Born215 mi
Uniti 193 mi+

Prices:            £15,000 – £30,000
Charge Time:    Most charge 20-80% in 30m.


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