Introduced more than 100 years ago, electric cars are seeing a rise in popularity today for many of the same reasons they were first popular.

Whether it’s a hybrid, plug-in hybrid or all-electric, the demand for electric drive vehicles will continue to climb as prices drop and consumers look for ways to save money at the pump. Currently more than 3 percent of new vehicle sales, electric vehicles sales could to grow to nearly 7 percent -- or 6.6 million per year -- worldwide by 2020, according to a report.

Fast forward to the 1990s. In the 20 years since the long lines at petrol stations of the 1970s, interest in electric vehicles had mostly died down.

The first turning point many have suggested was the introduction of the Toyota Prius. Released in Japan in 1997, the Prius became the world’s first mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle.

The other event that helped reshape electric vehicles was the announcement in 2006 that a small Silicon Valley company, Tesla Motors, would start producing a luxury electric sports car that could go more than 200 miles on a single charge.

Assembled in Fremont, California USA, Tesla has previously produced two models – the Model S and the Model X, with the third (Model 3) scheduled for 2017 release. However, availability in Australia is not expected before early 2019. Price is expected to be around $50,000. Before that, there was a Tesla Roadster.

The plan apparently was to have the names of their three latest models spell “SEX”, but the intended Model E was abandoned due to Ford’s trademark on that name, so Tesla ended up with “S3X”!

Essentially, the Tesla is an all-electric car with a range of around 350km, and has a very respectable acceleration of 0 to 100 kph in 5.8 seconds. With a 5-star safety rating, and seating for 5 passengers, the car is powered by a 60 – 80 kWh Lithium ion battery driving a 175 kW 3-phase AC induction motor. Curb weight is around 1,600 – 1,700 kg, depending on extras. Top speed is 210 km/h.

Top-of-the range Model S is the P100D, promoted as “the world’s fastest accelerating production car” with a 0 to 100 time of a shattering 2.7 seconds!

The Tesla has a “nearly barren” dashboard, sporting just one centre-mounted LCD touchscreen that combines the instrument cluster and infotainment.

The “supercharging” rate provides range of 270 km after 30 minutes of charging, and is available at various service centres around Australia. (Euroa has one at the Hume Highway Service Centre at the turnoff on Tarcombe road.) Tesla claims that fuel economy is four times better than a comparable petrol engine car.

Our display car is a Tesla S model and comes courtesy of Con Kolivas, who is bringing his Tesla to the Australian National Show and Shine Euroa from Melbourne. We love his number plate, obviously announcing that the car may have a long-range battery!

.. Ray Read