Experimental Vehicles at the First Symposium on Low Pollution Power Systems Development, 1973 (gallery).

  • Sundancer Electric Car
    Sundancer Electric Car
  • Lear Steam Bus
  • General Motors Gas Powered Vehicle
  • Sundancer Electric Car
  • General Motors Urban Electric Car

In 1970, NATO’s Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society called for the “development of low pollution vehicles among the NATO allies.” At the First Symposium on Low Pollution Power Systems Development, hosted by the Environmental Protection Agency in Ann Arbor, Michigan from October 14-19, 1973, a series of experimental low pollution vehicles were displayed, including electric cars, steam-powered buses, and other prototypes.

Even as the conference took place in Michigan, war broke out in the Middle East, and the Arab oil-producing states called for an embargo on oil exports to Israel’s allies. The sharp rise in oil prices and sense of an “energy crisis” prompted a shift to more fuel efficient vehicles in the 1970s and 1980s, but electric cars only started to establish a place in the marketplace in the 2010s.

What explains the slow adoption of electric cars and other kinds of alternative vehicles since the 1970s?

Library Item date: 
1973