‘Progress.’ A word one often hears, whether it be social or industrial or, indeed technology. Each era leading into the next, the merciless march of progress forever changing the face of reality. This is what foolish people say.

Look closely at the ‘timeline’ of human development and one will not see a line, a linear advancement from one point to another but rather a cycle. Each point being hit and then going around again until, essentially, the same points are reached.

Some cycles are short, some cycles are long, but they all eventually come around. Such as what is happening now with the notion of non-gas powered vehicles.

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Just a little bit of history repeating

Electric cars are hardly anything new. There has been semi-serious talk going on about them dating back to the late-1980s at the beginning of what would become the late-20th century environmental hysteria.

The real story starts some fifty years before with the Baker Electric originally produced in 1909. When the idea of motorized transport initially came about, gasoline was not the first thought. The initial prototype of cars in the 1840s were run on steam.

By the early-20th century, experiments with the relatively new electrical currents were being conducted, before the internal combustion engine became popular knowledge.

Then, as now, there were particular logistical problems with the electric engines, particularly for those living outside urban centers, where electricity was scarce at the time.

The problems were fixed, but by the time the Baker was ready to roll again, that old opportunist Henry Ford had taken full advantage of the lull in competition, finalized the gas engine and industrialized his plant operations. Baker did not stand a chance.

The cycle has completed and now, nearly a century later, the hiccup earlier in the millennium notwithstanding, the electric car is making a comeback. Elon Musk and his Tesla Motors are giving much new hope of an electric car renaissance.

The technology for such a vehicle exists, in present time, it is only a matter of time before the roads are full of electric cars. Or, so many thinks. Only thing is, with the completing of the cycle and the return of the electric car has come a new set of problems, every bit as those faced by Baker.

Elon Musk

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More power: Electric cars

As has been revealed by a recent hearing in Britain before the Advertising Standards Authority brought by British company Electrocity, Tesla were fibbing about the potential power of their Tesla Model S. Early advertising claimed it had a much more powerful battery pack. According to the advertising the Tesla Model S had a 135kW battery pack and their ‘supercharger’ charging stations had 120kW.

While this is now the case, it was an upgrade that was only brought about after the charges were filed. Even where it stands now, a 135kW battery pack is not enough to state most people’s desire for a vehicle is performance. At least if the sales numbers on high-performance vehicles are anything to go by.

Dollars and sense

The other major thing holding back the development of a fully-electric car as the dominant mode of road transportation is the price tag. The Tesla Model S is quite impressive, but with a price tag in the six-digits, it is essentially doomed to be a curiosity for the super-rich and well-connected.

It will be until enough of them sell at the full price and enter the used market and the environmental imperative becomes strong enough that sales in gas-powered vehicles decline, that fully electric cars will become the dominant presence on the world’s roads. A process that will take decades. Not a few years.

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Trevor McNeil spent much of his childhood playing video-games on early-form personal computers back when the disks were literally floppy. He attended the University of Victoria, completing a degree in Social Science with a concentration in Technology In Society, while also writing for the campus newspaper. He has written articles for such diverse publications as Humanity Death Watch, PopMatters and Perfect Sound Forever. He is a veteran of numerous “watershed moments” in the history of technological development and firmly believes that Han shot first.

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