Electric Cars: Their past, present and future

Electric and hybrid cars are making more appearances among the gas-reliant sedans and SUVs on the road, but what makes an electric car different from a gas-powered car -- other than just plugging it in?

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Tesla Motors

Founded in 2003, this Silicon Valley company has been making headlines as it sets out to prove electric cars have the potential to be better than gasoline-powered cars. The company is named after Nikola Tesla as a nod to his 1888 patent for the AC induction motor, which Tesla Motors used to design its first powertrain for a sports car. That car went on to become the Tesla Roadster, which was released in 2008 and changed the way the public viewed electric cars.

Drivers of Tesla vehicles can charge their cars at home and will never need a gas station, unless it's to grab a bag of chips or a coffee on a road trip. Of course, as with most criticisms of electric cars, getting yourself into a Tesla vehicle is expensive. But that hasn't stopped them from popping up all over the country, and if you live near a Tesla dealer, chances are you've seen more than one of these sleek electric cars on the road. Not surprisingly, Silicon Valley currently holds the title for the most electric cars in the US, with seven out of every 1,000 cars on the road running on an electric motor.

Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO, is reminiscent of a modern day Nikola Tesla, with a grand scheme to change the way the world consumes energy, through batteries. While Tesla wanted to create a world-wide wireless electricity network, Tesla is focused on making electric cars a feasible option for every car-buyer. But for Musk, it's not just about cars, he even wants you to charge your entire home or business with an electric battery.

The future of electric cars

It might be years before the average consumer finds themselves charging their car instead of filling up at the pump, but it's a real possibility. The mindset has changed, even in the oil industry, as we search for more efficient ways to power the world. Tesla has made one giant dent in the industry by introducing vehicles people actually want to drive and turning them into a luxury option for car-buyers. And plenty of car makers are following suit, with options like the Volkswagen e-Golf, Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt, just to name a few.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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