Electric cars were a strong contender as a powertrain in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. In 1899, the Electric Vehicle Company (EVC) was the largest vehicle manufacturer in the US. Early electric cars were quiet and drove smoothly. Most nineteenth-century taxis were electric cars.
On Year Year’s Eve, 1899, the US had more electric than internal combustion engine powered cars.
Oldsmobile overtook EVC in 1901. Ford eventually dominated the market with the low-cost Model T. The creation of the electric starter made internal combustion cars cheaper and easy to operate.
Electric cars made a comeback with GM’s EV1. No sooner did they gain in popularity than GM canceled the program and destroyed the cars. Eventually, internal combustion/electric hybrid’s gained market shared, typified by the Toyota Prius. Today, Tesla and most major auto manufacturers either produce or are developing electric cars.
Electric cars are simpler, with fewer moving parts, so tend to last longer, break less, and cost less to operate. Like immunotherapy, it took over a century for electric cars to mature but (also like immunotherapy) they’re likely to become dominant in the future.