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Electric Vehicles - A Look Back and a Look Ahead

Sep 2, 2008
With gas prices rising worldwide and global warming gaining awareness, the need for alternatives is undeniable. It's a new era of the automotive industry and couldn't come a minute too soon. Green technology is today what the minivan was in the 80's -- life changing ' and the next decade will set a new time in our history.

The demand first came for more fuel-efficient cars and automakers answered that demand slowly and reluctantly. But we now have cars that more than double the efficiency of cars from 30 years ago. We are more efficient, cleaner and safer in our automobiles than ever. So, with the next era of new alternatives, we are entering an exciting phase of automotive history.

Automakers from around the world have increased their hybrid and electric vehicle production and have put them on fast-track schedules in order to meet the demand. Gasoline powered vehicle plants have slowed tremendously and a few automakers have even halted their own gasoline-powered production lines to create electric and hybrid production lines in order to capture the in-demand hybrid cars market by 2009.

But hybrid and electric technology is not new. In fact, the electric cars date back to the 1800's. Non chargeable electric cells were used in the first cars with much needed battery improvements coming about in the late 1800's. The first electric land speed record was then set in Belgium in 1899 for a record land speed of 68 mph. The car's range of 18 miles was considered incredible in a time when people didn't travel far to other cities because of lack of quality roadways. The height of electric cars in America peaked in 1900 when electric vehicles outsold all other types because of the lack of vibration, smell and noise associated with gasoline cars.

Then, in the 1920's, better roadways brought about the need for longer range vehicles, crude oil prices dropped and became affordable, and Henry Road began making history with his affordable vehicles for the masses.

The 60's and 70's continued the trend of slow electric vehicles with short ranges of 50 miles and land speeds of just 44 mph. Electric vehicles were just not practical for traveling. The challenge to automakers has always been the balance of speed and distance between charges. Most electric vehicles had limited range, limited room for passengers or luggage, couldn't climb a hill or run the air conditioning without depleting the battery. Drivers also ran the risk of losing a battery charge while driving and becoming unable to return home to recharge.

Enter electric car technology of today. With new technology and new automakers on the scene there is hope for electric vehicles. One automaker making a splash is Shelby SuperCars, a newcomer with an impressive resume and engineering record. This is one company to pay close attention to.

Most auto manufacturers leave out the aesthetic nature in their electric designs ' leaving the hybrid buyers with less-than-attractive body shapes and boxy designs. But the supercars of tomorrow are tackling all the critics and designing for the 'eye' as well as the environment. They are super 'cars' for so many reasons. The newest breakthroughs in supercar technology are likely to have the 'trickle down' effect and be altered to meet the demands of the masses. The next electric consumer vehicles could have supercar roots.

The main challenge facing the automakers with green technology is funding. The battery and drive train engineering is expensive and finding potential suppliers for long-range batteries is difficult. With cars like the Italian-made Reva raising $20 million and Tesla Motors gathering $140 million in funding, it's safe to say the electric market is not cheap. For the boutique automaker Shelby SuperCars to be only seeking $5million is astonishing. They are currently raising $5mm by way of preferred stock offering through investor relations firm Sheffield International Finance Corporation. To date, the Company has achieved its world-class status with internal funding only. Although the funding is now invitation based, the company is also entertaining government grants from green programs both Federal and State based.

2009 should prove to be a historical year for the electric vehicle market from minis to supercars and every model in between. It's an incredible time for technology.
About the Author
Deniz Kumral is an independent writer who specializes in investment and finance. For more information about investing in green technology, SSC Ultimate Aero EV and Shelby Supercars please visit
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