Observations on electric vehicle’s first hurrah: horse, steam and electric tram technology adoption rates in the UK 1860s to 1960s

The momentum for the adoption of electric vehicles is currently the strongest it has been for over 100 year. This paper provides data and observations on electric vehicle’s first major success – the largely forgotten rise and fall of the electric tram. Using a data set from 1860s to 1960s for the progressive adoption and abandonment of horse, steam and electric traction technologies in towns in the United Kingdom, graphs show the rollercoaster path of tram technologies and the strong similarities in their take-up rates consistent with a simple S-curve innovation path. However, observations from the history of the period and the path of electric trams adoption suggests the efficiency benefits that came with the rapid rise of the tram and that transformed intraurban mass transport could only happen once. Although technology transitions and the take-up rates for new technologies involve a range of issues, care needs to be taken in expecting similarly efficiency benefits to support a simple S-curve innovation path for the current resurgence of electric vehicles, even with their positive climate change and air pollution reductions impacts.

Media Info

  • Pagination: 18p
  • Monograph Title: Australasian Transport Research Forum, 8-10 December 2021, Brisbane, Queensland

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01892447
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: ARRB Group Limited
  • Files: ITRD, ATRI
  • Created Date: Sep 6 2023 2:05PM