Photo: Joachim Rode

Major theme: A step towards a fossil fuel-free society

Monday 04 Jan 16

History of the electric car

H.C. Ørsted discovers electromagnetism.

The British physicist Michael Faraday combines electromagnetism and mechanics when he causes a wire to rotate around a magnet immersed in a glass of mercury using current supplied from a battery.

The Hungarian physicist Ányos Jedlik develops the first actual electric motor.

The first AC motor is patented by the Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla.

The Scottish chemical engineer William Morrison builds what is believed to be the first commercially successful and practical electric car.

The engineer Henry G. Morris and the chemist Pedro G. Salom build an electric car called the Electrobat. It is very heavy, but after further development they build several vehicles with a range of around 40 km. They have a top speed of just over 30 km/h.

The first golden age of the electric car begins. Of all the cars produced in the USA, 28 per cent are electric cars. Battery swapping stations where taxis can swap their batteries are installed in many large cities.

Ferdinand Porsche invents the first hybrid car. That same year the first electric car is launched in Denmark.

Sales of electric cars peak in the USA. They are popular, in part because they are easy to start, whereas a petrol car must be started with a crank handle. However, in the same year, the car manufacturer Cadillac invents the electric starter, quickly outcompeting the electric car as petrol is cheap and easily available.

During the last three Apollo missions in 1971 and 1972, the first electric cars are sent to the moon.

'Hope Whisper I' is Denmark's first true electric car. It is presented for the first time in Forum. Unfortunately, a tired engineer crashes the car into a fence and wrecks the car.

Production of Mini-El—nicknamed the 'Ellert'—begins. It has a top speed of 40-50 km/h and a range of 30-50 km.

Manufacturer Knud Erik Westergaard in Hadsund develops the Kewet El-Jet electric car. The majority of production is exported.

The 'Ellert' lives a turbulent life. A number of companies take over production of the vehicle and file for bankruptcy shortly after. Production moves between Denmark, Sweden, and Germany.

In the USA, three large car manufacturers, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, begin to develop electric cars. In France, Peugeot and Citroën do the same.

Small-scale production of the 'Ellert' continues in Germany, and today the car is sold under the name of CityEL.

The Danish company Kewet files for bankruptcy. The rights to the vehicle are sold to the Norwegian company Buddy Electric, which since develops, produces, and sells the car under the name of Buddy. There are currently 1,100 Buddy cars driving on the Norwegian roads.

Ford buys a Norwegian designed electric car, further develops it and launches the car under the Ford Th!nk City brand which is also sold in Denmark.

Tesla Motors in Silicon Valley launches the Tesla Roadster. The sporty design of the two-seater electric car attracts attention.

Tesla enters the European market.

The company Better Place establishes itself in Denmark selling battery swapping stations for the electric car Renault Fluence.

To mark the COP15 climate conference, five Danish electricity companies set up a climate project under the name of ChooseEV which primarily supplies charging spots for electric car batteries.

ChooseEV changes its name to Clever, branding itself as Denmark's first nationwide network of electric car charging spots.

Better Place files for bankruptcy.

1,575 new electric cars are registered in Denmark. The best-selling brands are Nissan, Tesla, Renault, VW, and BMW.

Sources: 'Lige om hjørnet' by Marie Ørstedholm, Børsen, Infomedia, Metal Magasinet,,, Wikipedia,, Danish Electric Vehicle Alliance, Esben Larsen, Associate Professor at DTU Electrical Engineering.

Charging time, range and taxes. There are plenty of challenges facing electric vehicles. Nevertheless, the electric car is the only long-term solution if the transport sector is to become independent of fossil fuels.

The transport sector currently accounts for approximately one quarter of total global carbon emissions, and the figure is rising. Passenger cars and vans are responsible for around 70 per cent of road transport emissions in the EU. This is due to the fact that most of the vehicles run on fossil fuels. Electrification of the transport sector is crucial if we are to achieve the goal of a fossil-free society by 2050.

Below, you can read more articles about DTU’s research and development of electric cars:

Photo: Joachim Rode
                                                                                  Photo: Joachim Rode

“Electric vehicles are the long-term solution”

Niels Buus Kristensen, Head of Department, DTU Transport, believes that electric cars are the key to the green conversion, where the transport sector will become independent of fossil fuels. . He is one of the key figures in Denmark when it comes to transport economics and climate solutions. A member of the Danish government’s climate advisory committee, he has also been a member of the previous government’s climate commission and congestion commission. In this article, Niels Buus Kristensen responds to the question of why the electric car is a better climate solution than investments in public transport, biofuels and higher taxes in the form of road pricing and toll rings.

Read the whole article here

.Photo: Joachim Rode
                                                                                  Photo: Joachim Rode

"The car will be more than just a means of transport"

Electric cars of the future can cover a range of needs other than transport. Together with researchers from DTU Electrical Engineering, Nissan has taken the first steps towards the development of the new electric cars. The project is called Nikola.

Read the whole article here.

Photo: Joachim Rode
                                                                                 Photo: Joachim Rode

"The battery—heart of the electric car"

Batteries twice as powerful as those currently available may finally herald the breakthrough of electric cars. Developing such batteries is the goal of a European, DTU-led research project based on advanced materials research.

Read the whole article here.

Photo: Colourbox
                                                                                       Photo: Colourbox

"Economy is the key"

Research shows that economy is the single most important factor in deciding whether to invest in an electric or petrol-powered vehicle.

Read the whole article here

.Photo: Nissan
                                                                                               Photo: Nissan

"Electric vehicle of the future"

How will electric vehicles develop? Associate Professor Esben Larsen from DTU Electrical Engineering shares his thoughts on what we can expect when it comes to charging, energy efficiency, batteries, operating costs, vehicle-to-grid and other services.

Read the whole article here.

News and filters

Get updated on news that match your filter.