The argument for a cleaner city didn’t come about until well after the introduction of the car, and really it was a snobby “those dirty, smelly poor people”. Prior to that they were luxury toys. You had to be a mechanic to get one to run, and they were expensive. A lot of them were solely used for sunday afternoon drives to show them off. They were a fashion statement, much like the fancy carriages that came before them. I don’t think that has changed since the inception of the horseless carriage.
Because gas vehicles were so unreliable, electric cars had like 50% of the marketshare in the teens, and were dubbed women and doctor cars because doctors needed something reliable without fidgeting trying to hand crank the thing for an hour trying to get it started.
Lots of places. Catastrophic failures don’t typically occur from just one thing, and decisions made weren’t necessarily bad at the time. For instance in the US, we had at least 9 presidents in a row say we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Oil prices have contributed heavily to 5 recessions. All commodity prices literally have a cost basis which includes oil. If you want to tank the economy, you create a upswing in oil prices. Because it is a globally traded product, it can be anyone in the world.(everything beyond that like refineries are heavily regulated.) But because we standardized on it, it eliminated the free market competition.
People created a stigma around using alternative fuels, and in fact, I believe it was illegal to use them on federal roads for a while. Then we have folks that go, OMG I have 12 gas powered things, if we switch, I can’t afford to replace all of them, which adds to the backlash. There was literally no incentive for development.
To top it off, you have various factions creating circular arguments. We can’t do x because of y, and we can’t do y because of x.
You have a whole host of monetary arguments like the US keeps track of the cost of all alternative energy, but then hadn’t updated the list since 1980 because the 200M budget was cut. It is used by countries and banks around the world, so you couldn’t get loans or if you could get them, they were extremely high interest. You have investors who piled all their money into FF for steady returns, and you have people who have jobs in the industry.
It literally was just a tangled knot. There wasn’t a simple solution, and in order to get any real free market competition, you had to unravel multiple layers that have been piling up for at least half a century. It isn’t an easy task to sort through them all muchless try and find a solution to the issue. If you can manage to find a solution, now you have to sell it politically.
That is just one issue, there are a multitude of issues with similar if not more complexity. There is just no easy button for a lot of this stuff.