In celebration of National Inventors Day on Monday, we’re looking at three inventors whose important contributions to electricity and electric vehicles laid the foundation for today’s EVs.
Without Gaston Planté, it’s safe to say that we would not have many of the electronics that we use today. Planté was a French physicist who invented the lead acid rechargeable battery in 1859. Using two electrodes and a sulfuric acid electrolyte, he created a battery cell with a reversible current. Not only that, but his battery doubled the previous battery’s power from 1.1V to 2V. Later, Planté’s battery was improved by Camille Faure, who further increased Planté’s battery storage.
There are multiple men who can claim the title of the Inventor of the Electric Vehicle, but Gustave Trouvé might be the first to invent a practical EV. In 1881, he combined a Siemens motor, Starnley tricycle, and a Faure rechargeable battery to create his “velocipede” vehicle which could travel 12 km/hr. While 12 km/hr doesn’t sound like much, it was described as the “speed of a good carriage” by Henri de Parville in a newspaper describing a demonstration on the Rue Valois. Later that year, Trouvé put his battery motor on a boat and displayed it at the International Exposition of Electricity in Paris, where the International Congress of Electricians defined four standard electrical units: the ohm, ampere, coulomb, and farad.
Trouvé may have given us the electric tricycle, but Thomas Parker gave us the electric car in 1884. Using his own high capacity rechargeable battery, Parker created the first electric car that could be mass produced. It carried three riders and later had revolutionary features like hydraulic brakes and four wheel steering. Electric cars quickly became popular for their ease of use and cleanliness – two traits that we see in the most popular models today.
The history of battery electric vehicles is long and remarkable. We’re amazed by the electrical engineers who invented battery storage and and found new, clean ways to transport people across long distances. We can’t wait to see the next big innovations in electric cars!