Electric On Wheels Online electric car information website
Electric On Wheels Electric Vehicle information - Timeline of the Electric Cars
Electric On Wheels News

Electric Vehicle History

1834 Thomas Davenport & O. Smalley - Electromagnetic Engine
Mitsubishi iMiev prototype

Illustration of Davenport and Orange Smalley's electromagnetic engine as drawn by Turner in 1834 from Franklin Leonard Pope, "The Inventors of the Electric Motor-II., The Electrical Engineer 11 (14 January 1891): 35. Courtesy of Henry Paynter.

In December of 1833, Thomas Davenport purchased a large, battery-powered, electromagnet at the Penfield Iron Works at Crown Point, New York, where this newly developed invention was being used to separate iron ore. For the next several months, he and Orange Smalley worked together in Smalley's shop on experiments in electromagnetism. By the summer of 1834, they succeeded in producing rotary motion.

After refining the machine,  Electric cars and vehicles are becoming more and more popular in today's culture. You no longer have to be a parts geek or engineer to design or build you own EV vehicle. As more companies continue to produce EV cars you will see even more acceptance of these vehicles by the general public.Davenport and Smalley demonstrated their "electromagnetic engine" to Professor Turner of Middlebury College at Middlebury, Vermont, in December of 1834. In a handwritten note of January 5, 1835, Professor Turner described "Davenport and Smalley's Specification of their Invention of an Electro-Magnetic Machine." His description of the invention was illustrated with the drawing shown above. You can read more on Thomas Davenport here.

 

 1838 Robert Davidson
1838 Robert Davidson

Between 1832 and 1839 (the exact year is uncertain), Robert Anderson of Scotland invented the first crude electric carriage.

Illustration of Davenport and Smalley's electromagnetic engine as drawn by Turner in 1834 from Franklin Leonard Pope, "The Inventors of the Electric Motor-II., The Electrical Engineer 11 (14 January 1891): 35. Courtesy of Henry Paynter.

In December of 1833, Thomas Davenport purchased a large, battery-powered, electromagnet at the Penfield Iron Works at Crown Point, New York, where this newly developed invention was being used to separate iron ore. For the next several months, he and Orange Smalley worked together in Smalley's shop on experiments in electromagnetism. By the summer of 1834, they succeeded in producing rotary motion.

1851 Charles B. Page

Probably the most spectacular demonstration of electricity as motive power was achieved by Dr. Charles Grafton Page, who for many years occupied an important position at the Patent Office in Washington. In 1838 Page exhibited in London a locomotive propelled by battery power around a circular railway track.

As early as 1845 it had been observed by Morse's partner Alfred N. Vail that a hollow coil of wire possesses the curious property of sucking a soft iron core into its center with considerable force when an electric current is applied.

Page saw this phenomenon demonstrated, and from it conceived the idea of using that force in an electric motor. In 1850, after numerous experiments, he constructed a machine that developed over 10 horsepower.

1852-1966 Studebaker
1838 Robert Davidson

Studebaker produced its first salable automobile, an electric, in 1902. It entered the gasoline automobile business in 1904. In late 1910, Studebaker mergered with EMF Corp. to form Studebaker Corp. In 1915, the first non-family member, Albert R, Erskine, became president of the corporation. During this period, Studebakers was, except for Ford, amoung the largest producers of automobiles in the country. Sales increases continued at a steady clip until the stock market crash of 1929.

Erskine felt that the depression would be short lived, so he continued to distribute large dividends. Erskine's misjudgement led Studebaker into recievership in 1933.Two resourceful Studebaker executives, Paul G, Hoffman and Harold S, Vance, pulled things together and saved the company. Hoffman and Vance guided the company through the depression and introduced the successful Champion model. They were still directing the company in 1945, when automobile production resumed.

Hoffman was president and Vance acted as Chairman of the board. Both men were responsible for Studebaker becoming the first established American automobile company to introduce a new postwar styling. A stlylish new car and a seller's market helped Studebaker establish new sales and profit records during the late 40's.

Although Studebaker's image seemed rosey, it was during this period that the seeds of the company's eventual undoing were taking root. A pampered work force and many outdated buildings resulted in poor productivity and high overhead. When the seller's market became the buyer's market, in the early 50's, these problems started to eat away at the profits. If the company had fed more profits back into plant improvements and taken a hard labor strike, things would have been much better. By 1953, the automobile division was operating in the red. Hoffman, who had left in 1948 to take a goverment position, returned in 1953. Neither him nor Vance could stop the flow of red ink.

Low slung new styling in 1953, a takeover by Packard in 1954, and help from Curtis-Wright in 1956, just prolonged what most insiders felt was a hopeless cause. The formation of Studebaker-Packard Corp. brought in James Nance as chief  execustive officer. Two years later, under the guidance of Curtis-Wright, Harold Churchill was selected as Studebaker-Packard's new president. This was a wise choice. Churchill an engineer, was a loyal Studebaker man who had been with the corporation since 1926. He was determined to see to it that the company survived.

In late 1958 Churchill introduced the Lark. This first compact car proved to be a big success during it's first year. Chuchill wanted to use the 1959 profits to keep Studebaker in the forefront of small car development. However the board of directors prefered using most of the profits for diversification. This difference of opinon resulted in the early 1961 replacement of Churchill with Sherwood Egbert.

Egbert working within the constrictions of the board, also hoped to save the automobile division. His efforts fostered the creation of the Gran Turismo Hawk  and the Avanti. Egbert's achievements, although commendable, did not help Studebaker's position. It was again on the negitive side of  the profit scale. The Packard name was dropped in 1962.

In late 1963, Egbert stepped down because of failing health. Studebakers directors voted to close down most of the South Bend, INd. facility. Production was then centralized at the Hamilton plant, in Ontario, Canada. President of the Hamilton divison was Gordon Grundy. He tried his best to operate the facility in the black. He did manage make small profits, but not enough to satisfy the board of directors. Because of the  boards dissatisfaction, the Canadian plant was closed in March 1966. By early 1966, the corporation's other diversified holdings, including STP, represented a majority of Studebaker sales.

These other companies kept Studebaker going. In mid 1967, the Studebaker Corp. purchased the Wagner Electric Corp. and in November 1967 Studebaker combined with the Worthington Corp. to form Studebaker-Worthington. In the fall of 1979, the Studebaker-Worthington Corp. was absorbed by the smaller McGraw-Edison Co. of Illinois. Cooper Industries took over McGraw-Edison in 1985.

1881-1906 Jeantaud
1838 Robert Davidson

The Jeantaud was a French automobile manufactured in Paris from 1893 until 1906. It was the brainchild of Charles Jeantaud, a coachbuilder who built his first electric carriage in 1881.

Among the vehicles he constructed was the first car to set a land speed record (39.24 mph (63.15 km/h), driven by Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat), as well as coupes and hansom cabs; in these the driver sat high, and to the rear.

Some cars had an unusual bevel-gear front-wheel-drive layout. From 1902 to 1904, Jeantaud offered a range of gas-engined cars similar to 1898 Panhards.

1888 Fred Kimball
1888 Fred Kimball

Philip W. Pratt demonstrates the very first American electric tricycle.

Pratt’s e-trike was built for him by Fred M. Kimball of, naturally, the Fred M. Kimball Company. Pratt took the editor of Modern Light and Heat for a spin around Winthrop Square (above) in Boston.

The vehicle’s 10 lead-acid cells pushed about 20 volts to a 0.5 horsepower DC motor. The whole setup weighed about 300 pounds.

The driver sat above the battery assemblage. Top speed: 8 miles an hour.

We don’t have any bystander accounts of that moment, but the mechanically propelled vehicle probably caused quite a scene.

The driver would have had to carefully navigate around horses and people to avoid sending them into a panic. In many locales, early automobilists had to stop their engines and pull over to let horses pass. The beasts regarded these new vehicles with intense suspicion and had the nasty habit of rearing and running in their presence.

William Morrison 1890

William MorrisonBorn in Scotland Morrison arrived in Des Moines in 1880 as a chemist. In 1887 he made an unsuccessful attempt to build a car but the center-pivot steering didn't work.

He then commissioned a fringe top surrey from the Des Moines Buggy Company, that he electrified in September of 1890, to demonstrate his new battery (patented 1891 With L. Schmidt). It may have been the first land vehicle steered with a wheel, and featured his patented rack and pinion steering gear (Immisch may have done both a year earlier).

Watchmaker Dr. Lew Arntz did the mechanical modifications. Powered by 24 of his lead-acid storage cells (48 Volts) with 112 Ampere-hours capacity it weighed two tons. A spur gear on a four horse-power Siemens trolley-car motor, that Morrison rewound to work at a lower voltage more practical for battery application (about 15% of trolley car voltage), this drove a large ring gear on the right rear wheel. This car became very influential when the American Battery Company of Chicago purchased it for $3,600 to demonstrate their commercial version of the Morrison battery at the 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition. At the fair almost everyone who would be influential in early motoring history saw the carriage. ABC Secretary Harold Sturges replaced the rear seat with a larger battery, installed a different motor, and entered it in the Chicago race on Thanksgiving Day 1895. Due to five inches of fresh snow on the roads the car had little chance, the motor overheated in the first ten miles. The race version weighed 3,535 lbs. Major George Tyler Burroughs VP of ABC estimated that between Morrison and American Battery more than $20,000 had been invested in the car, all though he felt that production cost would be about $1,000 per car. The car was last seen in Kansas City MO. Morrison further developed batteries at the Vesta Accumulator Co., and in the summer of 1897 Sturges went to the Klondike to search for gold.

1895-1897 Morris & Salom

Morris & Salom, Philadelphia. Pedro Salom was a chemist and Henry Morris a mechanical engineer; they had backgrounds in battery streetcars and in 1894 (as the battery streetcar business was fading) teamed up to make battery road vehicles. The first Electrobat was a slow, heavy, impractical vehicle. Morris & Salom went on to build about a dozen Hansom cabs based on the Electrobat before selling the concept and the cabs to Isaac Rice of Electric Storage Battery (see Electric Carriage & Wagon Co).

Type I 1894; 4,250 lbs with a 1,600 lb battery. Said to go 50 miles at up to 15 mph. It had steel tires to support the weight. Built like a small version of a battery streetcar.
Type II 1895; this vastly improved vehicle weighed 1,650 lbs. with a 640 lb battery. With two 1 1/2 hp motors, pneumatic tires, 25 miles per charge at 20 MPH. The body was designed and built at the Charles S Caffery Carriage Co, across the river in Camden New Jersey, (with the help of Walter C Baker's bearings and axles). They steered by the rear wheels.
Type III no info.
Type IV Late 1895; 800 lbs with a 350 lb battery, two 75 lb motors, 15 mph for 20-25 miles.

 

Moritz Immisch 1894 19970

Immisch MotorImmisch & Company built a four-passenger carriage, powered by a one-horsepower motor and 24-cell battery, for the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire. In the same year, Magnus Volk in Brighton, England made a three-wheeled electric car.

Originally he had started by making his name among the chief watch and clock manufacturers, and in 1872 had won the baroness Burdett-Coutts's prize for a thesis on the isochronism of the balance spring. Entitled "The Balance Spring" the thesis was subsequently published in book form. Moritz Immisch's talented mind, however, was neither fully occupied nor stretched in this limited work. Like others with great skill in instrument making, he became enthused by the opportunities presented by the new discoveries in electricity. It was thus his experiments in electricity, magnetism and general physics which soon attracted friends and capital.

Magnus VolkAbout 1880 he entered into a business partnership with fellow-countryman Fritz Hubel, along with several British backers who found the necessary capital to extend the scope of his experiments. A small electrical works were opened at Malden Crescent, Kentish Town, and the "Immisch Motor" was gradually evolved, and won medals at the Inventions Exhibition of 1885, the Antwerp International Exposition of the same year, and at various subsequent exhibitions. From thence to 1891 the firm seemed on the high road to success. The works were full of pioneer orders for dynamos and motors for use in running plant machinery for electric light, power transmission, pumping and hauling in mines, electric trams, electric launches, etc.

At this point it should be mentioned that Immisch's increasing reputation led to numerous people seeking his advice. Among those were Magnus Volk and the future Earl of Albermarle. Magnus Volk sought his views and advice over experiments to create an electric horseless carriage in 1887. (Earlier in 1883 Volk had received acclaim for building an electric railway along the sea front at Brighton). By contrast Viscount Bury, son and heir of the 7th Earl of Albemarle, contacted Immisch over experiments with electric trams and launches. (It is perhaps interesting to note: while Immisch, Hubel and Volk were originally from Germany, Viscount Bury's (Van Keppel) family were originally Dutch, arriving in England in 1688.)

Riker 1888-1899 - Riker Electric Motor Co. NY, NY Riker Poster

Andrew Lawrence Riker; (October 22nd 1868 to June 1st 1930). In 1884-86 Riker made his first electric, a modified Coventry bicycle, with a large outrigger wheel driven by a 1/6 hp motor of his own manufacture. It was said to go 8 mph.

Riker set up his business in 1888 making electric motors based on his patents. He invented the slotted armature and laminated field core designs. Between 1888 and 1890 he rigged two Remington bicycles together to create his four wheeled "motor cycle", it weighed 315 lbs.

His company made a full range of electric vehicles from 1895-1902, from a light two-seat tricycle up to a five-ton truck. In 1896 he raced one of his production cars running up to 27 mph. Riker got faster. On November 16, 1901 at Coney Island NY the 1,850 lb Riker racer, with a 60-cell battery under a platform with no body, went a mile in 60.3 seconds (59.97 mph). The two motor Riker cars were made with a motor driving each rear wheel by means of a spur gear on the motor driving a ring gear on the wheel. While this is simple, efficient, and avoids the need for a differential, it means that the motors must be mounted in rigid alignment to the wheel. This creates a lot of un-sprung weight, a liability on all but the smoothest roads. The gears were exposed to abrasive dust and pebbles that would gum up the works, affecting longevity and reliability. The Electric Vehicle Company purchased Riker for stock in December 1900 for Riker's patents. The Elizabethport plant was closed late in 1901. Riker, distracted by steam and explosion engines, and not a team player, left EVC January 1st 1902 to design cars for Locomobile. The Riker brand was used for Locomobile trucks in the late teens.

1896-1906 Lohner (Porsche)

Lohner Chaise ElectriqueAfter a bad experience trying to mount a gas engine to a carriage, coachbuilder Lohner hired Bela Egger's firm to electrify it. The Egger motors kept burning out, so Lohner hired the companyís bright young electrical engineer, Ferdinand Porsche, to design a whole new car as a pure electric. The car featured hub-motors built into the drive wheels, most models had two drive wheels and one car had four. He soon redesigned the car as a hybrid for greater range. Mercedes (Daimler) sales representative Emil Jellinek bought five of the cars for resale in 1901, and later became an owner of the company. They were nice fast cars (on a smooth road) but a bit expensive.

1899: prototypes are built
1900: a front wheel drive Bat-Dash Stanhope was displayed at the Paris Expo.
1901: First production year, three open cars and an outside drive Brougham are offered. They also made one four wheel drive car and several hybrids.
1915 final production year
The company is thought to have made 272 electric vehicles and 7 hybrids; 153 passenger cars, 75 cabs, 67 fire engines, 29 buses, and 23 trolleybuses.

1898-1915 Baker Motor Vehicle Co.

Baker Electric CarFounded by Walter C. Baker, (1868-1955) with Rollin White president, Fred White treasurer, and the Dorn brothers, Philip and Fredrick. Baker was one of the top motor vehicle innovators of the early era. Although best known for the electric cars that bear his name, and his early land speed records,

Baker came up with technologies and manufacturing processes that helped make all cars practical, such as modern ball bearings, steering knuckles, the fully floating rear axle with worm-gear shaft-drive (patented 1901), and vanadium alloy steel. Baker was with the Cleveland Screw Machine Co (a White Sewing Machine spin off) before starting the American Ball Bearing Co and the Baker Motor Vehicle Co in Cleveland. Walter Baker was also involved (from 1900) with the Peerless Motor car Co.

Baker bought Justus B Entz's patent for an electromagnetic starter/drive system from White in 1912, and licensed the rights to the R M Owen Co in 1913. This became the Owen Magnetic.

In 1897 Baker, with Fred Dorn, built his first electric, at Cleveland Screw. He was not working in a vacuum; Sperry was working on his cars there, and his friend C. E. Woods probably offered advice.

1899: Runabout, 2-passenger, 550 lbs with ten cells and a 3/4 HP motor. Chain drive to the rear axle, two speeds forward, one in reverse, and an advertised range of twenty miles. Edison bought the second one made.

1910: Four Models from $2,000-$2,600. The voltage was increased from 48 to 56. Baker claims sales of 1,000 cars. On August 30 1910 they ran a car for 201.6 miles on a single charge with a lead battery, later in the year they achieve 244-1/2 miles with an Edison battery. It is likely that at the end of the run the lead battery was scrap and the Edison battery was nearly normal.

1913: Three Models with Exide batteries, and six forward speeds. Wheel steering was optional.
Victoria; 2 passenger, 80" WB, $2,000.
Coupe; 4 passenger, 88" WB. $2,800.
Brougham; 5 passenger, 92" WB, $3,100.
1914: A Roadster with steering wheel replaces the Victoria $2,300.
1915: Baker is merged with Rauch & Lang, to settle R & L's patent infringements, with a capitol value of $2.5 Million. They merge the R. M. Owen Co. into the group in October with Raymond Owen becoming a vice president of Baker-R & L. Also in late 1915 GE became a major investor in the company pumping the capitol value to five million, they got three seats on the board.
1916: The Baker name is retired for passenger cars.

Woods Motor Vehicle Co. Chicago Illinois 1899

Woods Electric CarClinton Edgar Woods wrote the first book on electric vehicles. This was Woods' second company, after American Electric.

He lost his equity position the second time when Samuel Insull (Commonwealth Edison), August Belmont (NY subway), and an investment syndicate with a number of Standard Oil investors, took over the unprofitable company for the purpose of challenging the Electric Vehicle Company's lead cab monopoly attempt. They re-capitalized the company at 10 million and things picked up for awhile. Woods continued as consulting engineer.

The Woods Company built their own motors. The bodies were made by the Fisher Equipment Co.(1899-1919 Fischer Equipment Company, 20th St, Chicago IL) Willard, with Sipe and Sigler, made the batteries. C Sinsabaugh estimated the company made 1,000 cars.

1901-1904 General Electric

The GE we all know was formed in 1892. Shoe manufacturer Charles Coffin put together a consortium to purchase the American Electric Co. from Elihu Thomson and Edwin Houston in 1883. He named the new company Thomson-Houston Electric. They then purchased Brush Manufacturing in 1889 and Sprague Electric Railway and Motor Co 1n 1900. In 1892 Coffin and Drexel-Morgan led Wall Street consolidators to make a near monopoly by merging with its main competitor the Edison General Electric Co, creating the General Electric Co. The management for the new company was all from Thomson-Houston, which, though smaller, was more profitable. Other then a few prototypes around 1900, including a series hybrid in 1902, GE did not make electric cars, though they made the components for many manufactures, and in late 1915 became a major investor (2.5 million) in Baker Rauch & Lang to produce the Owen Magnetic.

1905-1928 Rauch & Lang

Rauch Lang Electric CarThe Rauch family had been a builder of wagons, then luxury carriages, in Cleveland since 1853. Founder Jacob Rauch was killed in the Civel War at Gettysburg, his son Charles Rauch teamed up with accountant Charles E. J. Lang, whose family made a fortune in the Cleveland real estate boom, to build the business into the principal maker of wagons and carriages in the region. In 1904 they decided to make luxury electric carriages. The motor and controller were from the Hertner Electric Co, which became part of R & L in 1907.

In June of 1915, in part to settle infringements on Baker patents, R & L with a capitalization value of $1 million, merged with Baker, at a capitol value of $1.25 million, Owen Magnetic was folded into the mix along with fresh capitol from General Electric. The new company was called Baker Rauch & Lang, some of the Lang interests diverged as the Lang Body Co.

In the winter of 1919-1920 the Company changed its name to Baker-Raulang with a body division and a material handling division (eventually absorbed by Otis Elevator). The automobile division was sold to Stevens-Duryea of Chicopee Falls Mass, they opened a subsidiary called Rauch & Lang Inc, which made electric cabs.

1911-1919 Hupp-Yeats

Hupp YeatsRobert Craig Hupp worked for Olds and Ford, in 1908 he founded Hupmobile with his younger brother Louis. As with his former employers, his idea of a car company was different then that of his financial backers, and he sold out in 1911 to found his own company. The old company owned his name so the new car was called a Hupp-Yeats. Better batteries were available and the new car was electric, featuring luxury coaches with a low hung body for ease of egress, lower center of gravity, and a more modern style. They used bevel shaft-drive and Westinghouse motors.

1911: 1-A Regent Coupe, four-passenger, 86" wheel base, 9" ground clearance, $1,750.
1912: 1-A (as above), 2-A Torpedo Roadster, 1-B Patrician Coupe 100" WB, 2-B Patrician Torpedo Roadster 100" WB,
1913: 4-passenger Regent Coupe with an Exide battery for $1,750.

1912-1915 Flanders Pontiac MI.

A consolidation of the Grant & Wood Manufacturing Co, Pontiac Motorcycle Co, Pontiac Drop Forge Co, Pontiac Foundry Co, and the Vulcan Gear Works. Capitalized @ $2.5 million. Named after the company director and machine tool wizard Walter Flanders. Flanders set up the tooling and production line for the first Ford model T and was the "F" of E M F corp. E. Le Roy Pelletier rescued the Company in 1913 after Studebaker bought EMF. Before getting Walter's permission to use his name he briefly called the car a Tiffany. Walter Flanders went on to produce the Maxwell.
Fewer than 100 Flanders/Tiffany were made

1911 A light low Coupe with worm drive. Marketed to the male driver. $1,775
1913 a 4 pass Victoria for $2,200 and a 5 pass Colonial for $2,500. 100" WB, in-house batteries. They had Timmerman motors and worm drive. Studebaker built the bodies.

If you have information regarding a electric vehicle event please send it by email here please.

back to topback to top

Web Design & Management by Trinakria Development | Copyright © 2008 - trinakria.ca