The past decade has been the most significant 10-year period for electric vehicles (EVs) since the first 10 years of the 20th century, when 38 percent of cars in 1900 were charging up, many with the aid of Thomas Edison-designed electric technology.

The renewed excitement that EVs garnered among carmakers in the late 1990s gave way to … almost nothing. But in the past few years, EVs have suddenly been reborn, and they’re now becoming a central aspect of development strategy for major car manufacturers. (Just today, Tesla Motors said that cheaper batteries will mean its $57,000 Model S sedan, which uses cells like those in laptops, can turn a profit with fewer unit sales).

We recently showed a timeline of GE’s own research and experiments with EVs over the last 40 years. And in 2010, we’ve seen our own work accelerate in new battery breakthroughs for trucks and buses; partnerships with tech leaders such as battery-maker A123 Systems and battery-switching pioneer Better Place; a new battery factory being built in upstate New York, purchases of EVs on a fleet-wide scale; sleek new WattStation EV chargers; and even advanced R&D into electric flight — just to name a few.

With 2010 coming to a close, we take a step back and look at how the EV industry has radically changed in just a few short years as technology and vision have caught up with each other. The result has been the epic rise of EVs in the last ten years:

 

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* Read more electric vehicle stories on GE Reports