It was over a hundred years ago when automobiles took the place of horses as America’s favored personal mode of transportation. We are now facing another significant change: the move from combustion to electric motors. There are similarities between the two, including the doubts and concerns consumers have about the adjustment.
Here is a look at the then and now of the automotive transition.
“Get a Horse”
This phrase was familiar to those who were early adapters of the automobile. There were those who just couldn’t accept the new technology over their reliable steed. They would mock those having trouble with their horseless buggies along the side of the road, shouting “Get a horse!” Today, electric cars have their own doubters, from people questioning their costs to the range they can travel.
Safety of the new automobile was a concern then, as electric, self-driving cars are today.
The Angst of the Conversion Process
The conversion from the horse and buggy to the automobile was far more dramatic than that of combustion to electric motors. Stores and saloons had horse hitching posts. Horses needed to be watered, fed, and shoed. We forget that, like cars, horses need maintenance.
Availability of Fuel
One of the ironies of early automobiles was that it took horse-drawn carriages to deliver the fuel cars needed. Today, the availability of electric charging stations is a concern as we move into the electric era.
Another irony is that early cars were so much noisier than horses. That noise was a point of criticism. Today, the complaint is that electric cars are too quiet and you can’t hear them coming. Some electric cars are installing audio systems that mimic the sounds of combustion engines.
We tend to think of our situations as unique, when it is likely we’ve been through something similar before. There may be more in common with the transition from horse and buggies to early cars and that of combustion engines to electric motors than we realize.
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