Henry Ford hastened the end of the electric car, as well as the steam powered auto, by producing the gasoline-powered Model T in 1908. By 1920, electric cars were almost a thing of the past.
With environmental concerns taking a front row seat in the later part of the 20th century, the electric car started a slow comeback. The first examples were hybrids (Honda Insight, Toyota Prius), which essentially used an electric motor to back up a gasoline powerplant Later, cars powered primarily by electric motors that used a backup gasoline motor (Chevy Volt), made their appearance. Even later, some pure all electric powered cars (Mitsubishi MIEV) hit the market.
To date the public's acceptance of hybrids has been somewhat limited and the acceptance of pure electric cars has been miniscule. Today's electric cars do not have the power and speed of gasoline powered autos. There is one exception — Tesla.
Tesla is a pure electric car, and is the brainchild of Elon Musk. Musk designed Telsa to be 100 percent electric and 100 percent powerful. We have had two opportunities to sit behind the wheel of a Tesla. Last year, we took a spin around the Independence Hall area of Philadelphia in a Tesla sedan. The car responded well, but we could not drive pedal to the metal in center city Philadelphia. We appreciated the crisp handling and the quality of the car's fit and finish. Yes, it did not seem to have the drawbacks of the all electric cars we have driven, but we could not “open it up” in the downtown area.
Last week, Tesla visited the Cherry Hill Mall, and we had the opportunity to spend about a half hour with the "X", Tesla's SUV, thrashing it out on Route 130, Route 38, and Admiral Wilson Boulevard.
The first thing that sticks in your mind is the gullwing rear doors (Tesla calls them "falcon wings”. The X is very attractive in appearance and has three row seating. At 5,500 pounds, it is as heavy as a Chevy Tahoe.
The X reached 60 mph in 3.3 seconds, and performed as well as any 700 horsepower gasoline V8. Power and torque came on instantaneously with a blip of the accelerator.
The X stickered out at $85,000, and it can be equipped with so many additional features that the price can reach $135,000.
The S sedan is not as expensive, but starting at $65,000, it's still not going to find its way into everyone's driveway.
Tesla will have a smaller "3" model sometime next year, which will be in the $35,000 price range.
If nothing else, Elon Musk has proven that electric power can be faster than even most of the high performance V-8's.