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18 PCB007 MAGAZINE I MARCH 2021 Feature Article by KJ McCann and Brian Zirlin AURORA CIRCUITS Worldwide research and development of the automotive industry began as early as the 17th century and since then has taken several dif- ferent design paths, with each country forging its own innovative trail and hundreds of pro- totypes emerging into the market. Vehicles— with steam-powered, electric, and combus- tion engines—began to play a major role, not only in the Industrial Revolution, but in ev- eryday life. Although many believe that elec- tric vehicles (EVs) are relatively new to the market, they have actually been around since 1832. Unfortunately, for the environment at least, gasoline-powered vehicles won the race as mass production, automatic starters, and cheaper oil prices gave them the upper hand. So, where did the major innovation for EVs truly begin? While gasoline-powered engines emerged as the leading design, they were not without fault. For that reason, General Motors released its first electric car in 1996—the EV1—howev- er, the push to bring this car to market was fee- ble, resulting in unfavorable outcomes. EV1s were sold solely through "limited lease-only agreements," and only to residents of Los An- geles (California). e scant supply resulted in GM's very selective and restrictive consumer bias. ese cars oen landed in the hands of the elite, making the idea of owning an EV un- attainable to the average consumer. Ultimately, GM decided that electric cars were an unprof- itable niche of the automobile market; this re- sulted in the company buying back and crush- ing most of its electric cars. e undoing of this product line led to an industry pullback from EVs as whole. As years went by, automotive manufactur- ers failed to automate and mass produce, and the product line continued its downfall. e pushback on electric vehicles continued as the Bush Administration proposed $1.2 billion in research funding to develop clean, hydrogen- powered automobiles. e federal govern- ment joined the oil and car industry to push hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, knocking EVs a de- cade further away. Despite the strong pushback from car manufacturers to switch to EVs, Toy- ota moved forward, releasing its completely The Future Is Electric

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