Essay: The great acceleration


Thomas Parker Electric Car 1880s. Source: Wikimedia

Jeff Sparrow.  The great acceleration.  Overland Issue 236 Spring 2019

I had no idea that there was an electric car industry in the early 20th century – did you? And that of the 4200 vehicles produced in the US by 1900, fewer than 1000 relied on internal combustion. The majority used either steam or electricity.

This essay looks back to the early response to those great disruptors, the first automobiles, and the way that people-power was pushed aside by the powerful automobile companies, which managed to blame pedestrians for being hit by cars!

This is a really interesting essay.

5 responses to “Essay: The great acceleration

  1. I did know, because I once heard someone on radio talking bitterly about the wasted opportunities, but that’s all I knew.
    Did you see, so recently, in an ABC current affairs program about the ‘quiet Australians’ that stupid woman saying that she wouldn’t vote for Shorten because of his pie-in-the-sky ideas about electric cars? That took my breath away. With yesterday’s Death of the Holden news, they were seriously talking about reviving the Australian car industry with electric cars which are in production all over the world, but so far only as luxury vehicles. It would be very nice if they came up with an affordable model, something like a Mazda 3 would be nice:)

    • Yes, I wish that they had the vision to promote an electric car industry in Australia, but if and when they ever considered it, other countries will have done so before us. I haven’t read Ross Garnaut’s new book, but I have heard him talking about it, and there are such good ideas there.

      • Yes, that’s true, I caught some of a program about electric cars when I was driving home from French this week, and it’s really disappointing that we are lagging behind in this way.

  2. From childhood I remember reading about an old battery powered car, perhaps in a Golden Circle children’s book and maybe there were dalmation dogs in the story.

  3. Yes, like Lisa, I had heard reference to it – only in the last year or so and was surprised. And like Lisa, we are waiting for an electric car (just like we waited for a couple of years for an affordable hybrid SUV to finally appear in Australia). Honestly, what a disappointing country we are. We were among the first to take up mobile phones in a big ways so it’s not like we are not good uptakes of technology, but when it comes to these significant things we lag!

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