DC electric motor for commercial use, originally invented by Thomas
Davenport in Brandon, Vermont in 1834 has made many things possible,
one of the most enjoyable is the electric car. The following is not
a complete history, but features some nice visuals of the history
of the electric car.
Leading up to the electric car some components had to be invented:
1821 - Michael Faraday creates the first weak experimental
electromagnet 1831 -Joseph Henry builds the
first powerful electromagnet (the main component of the electric
motor) 1834 - Thomas Davenport
develops the first electric motor for commercial use. He creates an
electric minature train and model car. His inventions fail to become
profitable since he was using unreliable primative batteries and the
DC dynamo had not been invented yet.
1851 - The US Senate funds an experimental electric railway from
Washington DC to Baltimore. It was engineered by Charles
The effort fails when the batteries crack and coils overheat.
Steam still proves to be more practical at this point.
1883 - England opens the first successful electric tram/trolley
engineered by Magnus Volk 1886 - Frank Sprague invents
the first practical DC motor, it is capable of consistant speed under
varying loads and does not creating sparks
1887 - Frank Sprague uses his DC motor in trolly systems in North
America 1897 - Electric cars first used in commercial use as taxis
in New York City. They were built by the Electric Carriage and Wagon
Company of Philadelphia 1900 - 38% of US automobiles are powered by electricity
Baker Electric Car
Baker Electric Car was produced by Baker Motor Vehicle Company. Based
in Cleveland, Ohio, they produced some well perfoming early electric
cars. Cleveland's history with the electricity began in the 1870's
with local pioneer of electricity Charles F. Brush who created
the first city lighting systems in North America using arc lights.
of photos are from what is probably a 1903 Baker Electric. Originally
we thought it was a 1901 Baker Electric due to documents registering
the car to E. W. Rice of General Electric
but under the seat there is a GE motor with a 1903 patent as the last
date, therefore the car may be from as early as 1903. It is possible
this is a 1901 and it was restored in the 1970's using a 1903 motor.
A motor under the seat
Baker Electric uses a chain drive
Batteries in the front and rear of the car. These batteries are not original.
Edison lead-acid batteries were originally used.
Automobile Motor No 116324 Application GE1020
E2WO ??? 26 Volts 48 Speed 1980 Patented July 9 '89 ?? 25, '90 July
8, '90 Nov 10, 91 Oct 22, '95 May 5, '96 Dec 14 '97 Jan 31'99 May
12 1903 General Electric Co. Schenectady, N.Y., U.S.A.
Below: video of this car in action:
Rectifier Battery Charger for the Baker Electric's Edison Batteries.
That is a slate circuit board.
VIDEO: Electric Car charger used for the Baker
Electric and Detroit Electric:
This is another great early electric car produced
by the Detroit Electric Car Company (1907-1939).
This 1914 Detroit Electric Car was owned by Charles P.Steinmetz. He
rode inthe back and had a driver use the tiller in the front.
Below: video of Steinmetz's
electric car pulling out of the Edison Tech Center
First Hybrid Electric Car 1916:
car goes back to the 1916 Owen Magnetic car. The car failed due to
the high cost of production and the fact that the car did not save
much energy compared to the standard small gas motors of the time.
Later In the 1980's computers became powerful and compact enough to
be used to control the car's engine and breaking. The computer made
it a practical and energy saving invention, see below "The First
Modern Hybrid Electric Car".
Cars at GE in the 1970's:
An article about Bob King's research at General
Electric, published in the Monogram 1975
GE Electric Lawn Mower 1970:
The Elec-Trak E15 lawn mower came out
in 1970. We will have more information here from local owners
that still use the Elec-Trak. Check back later for more!
First Modern Hybrid Electric Car:
Andrew Burke developed the first computer controlled hybrid-electric
vehicle in 1982 as part of the "Joint Feasibiltiy Study of the
Hyrbrid Vehicle" funded by the US government and GE. When GE
couldn't sell the car to the big 3 US automakers, they sold the technology.
Toyota later makes it into a profitable technology.
The 1982 vehicle used a computer to control the engine and power system,
this enabled great cost savings. Also the breaking system helped recharge
the batteries. This was all possible due to the computer finally becoming
compact enough and powerful enough to work in a vehicle.