Motoring’s current electric revolution may seem futuristic, but in point of fact it is simply a throwback to historical roots. The first electric car (actually, more of a horseless carriage) saw the light of day back in 1835, about 50 years before the first tricycle featured an internal combustion engine (ICE). It was an electric vehicle that broke through the magical 100 km/h barrier first, and at the beginning of the 20th century there were more battery-powered electric cars in the US than vehicles fuelled by petrol combustion.

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And yet the electric car soon lost the battle – the technology, comprising heavy lead battery cells with highly corrosive sulphuric acid splashing around in them, was a crude set-up offering paltry range. With the advent of mass production, ICE cars gained the upper hand. Now, electric vehicles are making a comeback thanks to technological advances resulting in the miniaturisation and development of mobile electronics – the new battery cells are compact, lightweight and charge much faster than ever before. And this evolution is continuing apace...

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Electric drive in the transport sector really is nothing new and you probably use it more often than you even realise. Honestly! Did you, say, use a lift today? But seriously, electricity is widespread in public transport – trolleybuses, trams, the metro, most trains and even some boats. Yet in individual transport it is still rather exotic. Electric kick scooters, electric bicycles and electric scooters are still not entirely commonplace. And when someone passes by on a hoverboard, you feel like you’re in a science-fiction movie.

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In contrast, electric vehicles are quite unobtrusive. Compared to an ordinary car, what gives them away is how suspiciously quiet they are, as usually all you’ll hear is a faint whistle. Otherwise, an electric car works just like an ICE car. Some would say even better than a petrol car. Electric cars are easy to drive (the single-speed transmission consigns manual gear-shifting and the clutch pedal to history), they are completely silent (like today’s top-end limousines), you never have to wait for the engine to engage (maximum torque is available from zero revolutions), and they are more spacious (electric drive is more compact) and easier to maintain (no more hands filthy with oil).

The first ŠKODA electrified models can be yours from next year, when the plug-in hybrid ŠKODA SUPERB PHEV and the fully-electric ŠKODA CITIGO take their bow. In 2020 there are plans to launch a mass-produced version of the VISION E concept, an electric SUV with a range of up to 500 km. The new VISION X concept, cleverly combining a CNG engine with electric drive, was also showcased at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. This hybrid technology could help to make ŠKODA cars even more environmentally friendly. By 2025, ŠKODA will have ten electrified models, five of which will be pure-electric..

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The brand is also working in earnest on an autonomous vehicles, allowing you to make effective use of the time when you’re stuck in a traffic jam, perhaps by catching up on the news online, answering emails or taking selfies, and enabling you to rest on those long, boring motorway hauls. Never fear, though, you can still experience the joy of driving – the autonomous systems can be switched off, enabling you to take over the steering wheel and enjoy the thrill of the ride when you really want.

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However, development does not end here, as technical advances are unstoppable. Electrification and autonomous technology open up a whole number of other previously inaccessible avenues of future mobility. In just a few years’ time, for instance, cities will abound not only in automated taxis, but also aerotaxis – autonomous drones with a passenger compartment. We’ll hail them with a mobile app, and then just enter a destination, and the machine will take us there in moments, with no need to wait in jams or squeeze into public transport. Airbus, the aircraft manufacturer, is even developing the concept of flying car – a self-driving electric car with a detachable passenger capsule, which can then be connected to an electrically driven quadcopter module and take off into the air. The vision where we arrive at a city’s outskirts by road and then move around the city by air, in complete comfort without having to intervene actively in any way, may no longer be limited to the realm of science fiction.

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The Hyperloop project – high-speed capsules carrying passengers or cargo that dart through low-pressure tubes – may speed up and streamline traffic even further. The principle is quite simple: the capsule has an electrically driven compressor that sucks in air and forms an air cushion, along which the capsule moves, thereby minimising the air resistance and friction that complicate high-speed mobility. It is thought that the Hyperloop top speed will be up to 1,220 km/h. You could travel hundreds of kilometres in minutes.

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While electricity and advanced technology will make our current high-paced lives even faster, they also offer the hope that we will have more time to relax – to minimise and make more efficient use of the time we spend on getting from one place to another. One day, we could find an ultimate solution to traffic problems, a device that takes us to any distant spot almost immediately – teleporting. Science fiction? Well, it wasn’t that long ago that everything in this article seemed fanciful...

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