“In the mid-1990s, car companies fought to kill off electric cars, ensuring a continued reliance on oil. That looks to have been in vain, as the age of the internal combustion engine – and the pollution it causes – may well be coming to an end.”
The documentary, “Who Killed The Electric Car,” made us all very aware of the power and greed of global corporate interests and the countries that control the world’s oil supply.
It’s hard to believe now, but in 1900, 38% of all cars built in the U.S. were electric. That’s why it’s all the more remarkable that it comes as big news that Nicolas Hulot, France’s Minister of State, Minister of Ecological and Solidarity Transition, announced that France will end sales of gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2040. The announcement is just one of part of France’s “Plan Climat: 1 Planète, 1 Plan.”
According to the Ministry, the Climate Plan was prepared at the request of president Emmanuel Macron: It aims to mobilize the entire Government over the coming months and years to make the Paris Agreement a reality for the French, for Europe and for the diplomatic action of France.
The Climate Plan accelerates France’s operational application of the Paris Agreement and with a goal to surpass its initial objectives through six initiatives:
– Making the implementation of the Paris Agreement irreversible;
– Improve the daily life of all French people;
– End the fossil energies and engage in carbon neutrality;
– Make France the leader in a green economy;
– Encourage the potential of ecosystems and agriculture;
– Intensify international mobilization on climate diplomacy.
As an immediate step in moving toward reducing environmental damage by fossil fueled vehicles, the government will provide financial assistance to lower income individuals who want to upgrade to cleaner vehicles if they have a diesel made before 1997 or a gas automobile made before 2001.
Minister Hulot also announced that France will stop producing electricity with coal by 2022 and be carbon neutral by 2050. The mobilization plan to involve citizens and consumers in these initiatives is called, “Make Our Planet Great Again.”
In the press conference, Hulot said, “Climate issues are the cornerstone of universal solidarity. It is our duty to exceed our objectives, to go farther, faster. I hope that the ecological and solidary transition, this tremendous economic, environmental and societal opportunity, can improve the daily life of all French people. And this solidarity, we must also share it internationally.”
Volvo announced the same week that every car it launches from 2019 will have an electric motor. The company plans to launch five fully electric cars between 2019 and 2021. Models will feature a range from fully electric to plug in hybrids to “mild hybrid” cars.
The move toward electric cars saw some momentum in the 1970s, sparked in the U.S. by the passage of the Clean Air Act (1970) and the effect of the OPEC oil embargo (1973). It is just a footnote in history that the U.S. Congress passed the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act in 1976. The Act was intended to:
(1) encourage and support accelerated research into, and development of, electric and hybrid vehicle technologies;
(2) demonstrate the economic and technological practicability of electric and hybrid vehicles for personal and commercial use in urban areas and for agricultural and personal use in rural areas.
(3) facilitate, and remove barriers to, the use of electric and hybrid vehicles in lieu of gasoline- and diesel-powered motor vehicles, where practicable; and
(4) promote the substitution of electric and hybrid vehicles for many gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles currently used in routine short-haul, low-load applications, where such substitution would be beneficial.
Most of the models developed in the 1970s only live on in automobile museums and the brochures are revered by collectors. Favorites include the Sebring Vanguard CitiCar (YouTube video here ), manufactured in Florida and the Elcar manufactured in Italy by Zagato (YouTube video here). The CitiCar had a range of 50-60 miles with a top speed of 44 mph while the Elcar had a range of 60 miles and could cruise at 45 mph.
It will be exciting to look back in 2040 and see where today’s news has lead, hoping automakers produce electric cars that take hold better than the CitiCar and Elcar!
Photo credits: Mike Mozart
French Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition. Press Release. Launch of the Climate Plan. July 6, 2017. https://www.ecologique-solidaire.gouv.fr/lancement-du-plan-climat
French Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition. Plan Climat: 1 Planète, 1 Plan. July 6, 2017. https://www.ecologique-solidaire.gouv.fr/sites/default/files/2017.07.06%20DP_plan_climat.pdf
Thompson, Cadie. How the Electric Car Became the Future of Transportation. Business Insider, July 2, 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/electric-car-history-2017-5/#the-electric-car-burst-onto-the-scene-in-the-late-1800s-and-early-1900s-1
Volvo Cars. Press Release. Volvo Cars To Go All Electric. July 5, 2017. https://www.media.volvocars.com/global/en-gb/media/pressreleases/210058/volvo-cars-to-go-all-electric
France Will Ban The Sale Of All Petrol And Diesel Cars By 2040, July 2017. http://www.iflscience.com/technology/france-will-ban-the-sale-of-all-petrol-and-diesel-cars-by-2040/
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