Alternating Currents: The Fall and Rise of Electric Vehicles

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Gayle Anderson was live in the Mid-Wilshire District of Los Angeles at the Petersen Automotive Museum to explore the exhibition Alternating Currents: The Fall and Rise of Electric Vehicles.

According to Petersen Automotive Museum historian Leslie Kendall, “…while debate exists about his exact timing, Robert Anderson of Scotland is considered to have become the first to use electricity to power a car in about 1839. The early technology was unmistakably primitive, but had improved so rapidly that by 1900 electric cars exceed both steam- and petroleum-powered cars in popularity.”

He says, “…clean, quiet, and reliable, early electric cars were especially appealing to women. But they were also heavy, expensive, and required a great deal of time to recharge. Petroleum-powered cars suffered no such drawbacks. Thanks in large part to the availability of cheap oil and the industry-wide adoption of electric starters during the early twentieth century, cars with internal combustion engines became so convenient to refuel and simple to operate that they went on to dominate the marketplace for the next hundred years.”

With the limits of internal combustion engineering becoming ever more apparent, new interest in electric power has prompted the automobile industry to reintroduce mainstream electric vehicles, first in the form of gas-electric hybrids like the 1997 Toyota Prius then of pure electrics like the Tesla of 2008. The Petersen Automotive Museum exhibition explores the history and development of electric cars and why the market for them is so strong that manufacturers who do not offer an EV are now more the exception than the rule.

“Alternating Currents: The Rise and Fall of Electric Vehicles

Petersen Automotive Museum
6060 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036

If you have questions or complaints, please feel free to contact Gayle Anderson at 1-323-460-5732 or email at

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