In the 1960s and 1970s, the automobile industry started looking into electric cars again due to rising oil prices at the time and a greater awareness of environmental issues, much like what is going on today. A handful of rather boxy and very small vehicles were developed. None made it to the commercial platform.
This second wave of electric vehicles never had the chance to compete with gasoline automobiles. They simply didn't have the horsepower and could not last long enough. To try to make up for the lack of power of rechargeable batteries, some of these electrics used fuel cells instead of batteries. Environmental problems never went away but oil prices did normalize and the push behind electric cars faded once again.
The second electric car revival really began in the 1990s, about fifteen years after the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research Development and Demonstration Act was passed by Congress to encourage the development of electric vehicles that people would actually want to buy. During the past decade, government initiatives around the world have encouraged more research and investment into the hybrid and electric market, including the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which put $2 billion aside for the development of electric cars and batteries.
As the world again faces the reality of the environmental strain of gasoline-powered vehicles and the financial strain, more efficient electric models are being developed. Also, more and more electric powering stations are popping up across the country. Right now there are several excellent hybrid and electric vehicles available, such as the Nissan Leaf and the Toyota Prius. Many of the greener cars come with a higher price tag, but as the technology improves these numbers are sure to go down. This history of the electric car continues. Out of social necessity, electric-powered vehicles are on their way to a much smoother road.