Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

GM's long road back to electric cars

General Motors' starts, stops and occasional short circuits on the road to the Chevy Volt.

1 of 9
BACKNEXT
From the earliest autos
From the earliest autos
A product of the Olds Motor Co., this electric car was produced before Olds joined Buick in 1908, which was the start of General Motors.
Electric cars are not a particularly new idea. In fact, electricity seemed like a natural way to power early automobiles. The motors were quiet, clean and unlike gasoline or steam engines, they could be started with a button press.

The disadvantages were that electric cars lacked the range and speed of gas or steam cars, so they were marketed as the ideal choice for women since, it was said, they needed neither speed nor range just to run errands around town.

The problem for the electric motor was that little could be done to improve it. Meanwhile, gas engines became quieter and cleaner. General Motors tipped the balance towards gas-powered cars even further with its invention of the electric starter in 1911, which meant they no longer had to be hand-cranked to start.

GM didn't abandon the electric car altogether. In the past century, it's made several attempts to bring one market, so far with little success.

Materials from GM's extensive archives in Warren Mich. offer a look at the carmaker's various forays into electric drive over the past century. One might finally take off.


NEXT: GMC Electric trucks
Last updated April 07 2009: 2:19 PM ET
More Galleries
A look at Sears through the years Now Sears has officially said its business has an uncertain future, here's a look at photographs that documents the store's rich history. More
Coolest hotel bars for business travelers in 2017 CNNMoney asked a high-end concierge service for routine business travelers what hotel bars they'd recommend in 4 major U.S. cities. Here are the best spots. More
Top credit cards for business travelers 2017 Just like a pair of pants, there's no 'one size fits all' when it comes to the best credit cards for travelers. More

Special Offer