The Golden Age
It may sound incredible, but electric cars were extremely popular a little under a century ago. At the beginning of the 1900s the market share of electric cars even reached 28%, almost all the taxis on the streets of New York and London were electric and many private individuals used them too. Combustion engine development was still in its infancy at the time, with high running and maintenance costs and extremely complicated vehicle operation. A crank handle had to be used for starting them and gear changing was required; making driving more challenging and deterring many from using such cars. In contrast, electric cars were easy to drive, with no gear changing required, almost instant starting and quiet running. Electric cars had one major disadvantage though, with their range of only 40-80 km (24-50 miles) being suitable almost exclusively for urban transport. They were unsuitable for driving longer distances outside urban areas because there was nowhere to charge the batteries; which finally proved a fatal disadvantage in their competition with combustion engine vehicles.