|Since 1905, the Society of
Automotive Engineers has played a vital role in the development of the
SAE's first president was Andrew L. Riker, an early pioneer of electric vehicles who later produced the Locomobile Company's first gasoline-powered car. Riker served as SAE president for three years, 1905 through 1907.
Born in 1868, he produced his first electric car in 1894, using a pair of Remington bicycles as a base.
Like the Columbia companies, which had several names and incantations during their run, the Riker companies had three names of incorporation plus two different home locations during their existence from 1896-1902. As listed in The Encyclopedia of American Automobiles published in 1971, these were Riker Electric Motor Company, Brooklyn, N Y. (l896-l899), Riker Electric Vehicle Company, Elizabethport, NJ (l899-l900), and Riker Motor Vehicle Company, Elizabethport, NJ (l90l-l902). The company became one of the country's leading manufacturers of electric vehicles, including cars, trucks, vans and trolleys. Rikers were combined and distributed with Columbias until the company was finally absorbed by Electric Vehicle Co and the brand ceased to be used for automobiles.
Riker gained acclaim for his development of high-speed electric cars. In 1901, his electric-powered racer "The Riker Torpedo" set a world speed record for electric cars that stood for ten years. Five-ton electric trucks produced by the Riker Company were in use in New York City in the early 1900s.
Riker became vice-president of the Locomobile Company in 1902, overseeing the firm's production of automobiles powered by two- and four-cylinder internal combustion engines. His design of the company's first gasoline-propelled car included many features which were largely unfamiliar to the American market, including a sliding gear transmission, steel frame, and gear-driven electric generator.
In 1904, he designed a special 90-horespower racing car, and in 1908, he developed Locomobile's "Old 16," the first American car to win an international race (the Vanderbilt Cup). The victory boosted the reputation of American automotive engineering throughout the world.
In the World War I era, Riker/Locomobile trucks were very popular, and heavily advertised in publications such as Scientific Americanand The Saturday Evening Post. Riker was appointed to the U.S. Naval Consulting Board in 1915, chairing the board's committee on internal combustion motors.
Riker died in 1930. Three Riker electric vehicles, including a truck and a racer, are housed at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The book Andrew L. Riker and The Electric Car - A Biography of the Young Riker by Neal Donovan, published by McPherson College Press in 2003, chronicles Riker's early experiments, his contributions to the fields of electricity and transportation, and his business dealings.
|In 1888 Andrew Lawrence Riker
founded the Riker Electric
Motor Company to build fans and industrial motors.
He produced his first electric car in 1894 using a pair of Remington bicycles as the frame.
In 1896, Narragansett Park in Cranston, RI, became the site of the first closed-circuit dirt track races to be held anywhere. They were a feature of the 76th annual Rhode Island State Fair. Eight vehicles were entered, and after three of the five scheduled five-mile heats, the electrics of A.L. Riker and Morris and Salom had finished first and second. Bad weather forced cancellation of the remaining heats.
In addition to the races described earlier on this webpage, on November 16, 1901, the low-slung racer in the photo below traveled one mile in 63 seconds (57.1 mph), setting a record for American electric cars. The time was measured along a two-mile stretch of Coney Island Boulevard in Brooklyn. To reduce the weight, the vehicle was ruthlessly stripped - retaining only the frame, running gear, batteries and motor.
Connections: Fuel: electricity (stored in batteries); Starter: hand lever knife switch; Power transmitted by gears.
The battery was a direct development from Edison’s Dynamo, allowing for the storage and harnessing of electricity.
The two gear driven electric motors evolved from Edison’s work.
The vehicle required an Engineer in the stern and navigator in the bow, and utilized cross bar steering.
PROVIDENCE HORSELESS CARRIAGE RACE, 1896
THE PROVIDENCE HORSELESS CARRIAGE RACE.
In the last issue of the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN we gave an account of the first two heats run on the Narragansett Park track at Providence, R. I. Owing to a severe storm which swept New England during the race week, the plans of the managers were upset and only one more heat was run, the winners being Morris & Salom; the Riker carriage was only a few yards behind.
The fastest mile was made by the Riker electric carriage, the time being 2:13. The Morris & Salom electric carriage made the fastest five miles, covering the distance in 11:27.
The prize money was reduced on account of the five heats not being run. The first prize, of $900, was adjudged to the Riker Electric Motor Company, of Brooklyn, N. Y.; the second prize, of $450, to Morris & Salom, of Philadelphia, Pa. The contestants were anxious to run the other heats, in spite of the weather, but the management declined. The announcement of the success of the electric carriages created some surprise, as it has been thought lately that motors using some form of petroleum were best adapted for horseless carriage use, and the electric motor has been somewhat discounted. The electric carriage has made a record for speed, and the great ease of control and the absence of noise and odor will commend it to those who are anxious to purchase horseless carriages, but whether they are adapted for long runs or not still remain to be proved.
The entries were as follows (but in one case several carriages
of the same make were entered under different names):
Great interest was manifested in the races, which were
5,000 spectators. Our engraving show the carriages lined up for the
|In the late 1800s there were a
number of inventers and entrepreneurs working on the horseless
carriage. Automobiles with internal combustion, electric motors, and
steam engines were all being developed. Races were open to all.
The high point for Electric Vehicles was the September 7-11, 1896 races held at Narragansett Park in Providence Rhode Island, where 2 EVs bested a field of 6 internal combustion automobiles.
The race was held on a horse track and under the general rules for trotting races. It was scheduled to be 25 miles total length broken down into five mile heats.
The first race was run on Monday, September 5. There was a rolling start with the Riker Electric Motor Company car, driven by A.L. Riker, on the pole. The Riker Electric completed the 5 mile race in 15 minutes and 1 second, with the Electric Carriage & Wagon Company entry, driven by Henry B. Morris, only 13 seconds behind. The first ICE car, entered by the Duryea Motor Wagon Company, was a further 3 minutes and 33 seconds behind.
The second race, held on Tuesday, Septmember 6, was faster and closer. The Riker Electric won again from poll, cutting almost two minutes from the previous day's time; but only 7 seconds behind was the Duryea ICE entry. Despite being 41 seconds faster than yesterday, the Electric Carriage entry finished third.
Wednesday and Thursday, races were rained out.
By Friday afternoon, the track was dry enough to race on and 50,000 people gathered to watch.
The Riker Electric still had the pole position but lining up in second was the internal combustion entry of the Duryea Motor Wagon Company. The Electric Carriage entry opted for a new driver, Henry B. Morris stepping aside for Mr. Adams.
The cars were even faster and the racing even closer. The Electrics got a good start, but by the half mile mark, the Duryea Motor Wagon entry was gaining. At this point, the ICE suffered a tire puncture and could not maintain the pace. The Ricker Electric held a small lead over it's Electric Carriage rival until the final straight. There, the Electric Carriage entry put on a final burst of speed and took first place with a record time of 11 minutes and 27 seconds. The Riker Electric at 11 minutes and 28 seconds and the Duryea Motor Wagon entry at 11 minutes and 29 seconds also set personal bests and contributed to a thrilling finish.
The contest paid 3/5 prize money since two heats were rained out.
The Riker Electric Motor Company vehicle was the overall winner taking home $900.
Second went to The Electric Carriage & Wagon Company collecting $450. The ICE of the Duryea Motor Wagon Company placed third and was awarded $270.
To the best of our knowledge, it would be 111 years, 3 months and 14 days before an electric vehicle again claimed victory against an Internal combustion engine powered automobile, in a sanction close circuit competition.
Most of this information comes from Ernest Henry Wakefield's History of the Electric Automobile. Pictures are courtesy of Pronyne Motorsports Museum, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA.
Wakefield, Ernest Henry. History of the Electric Automobile. Warrendale, PA: Society of Aytomotive Engineers, Inc.
Anderson, Cutis D. and Judy. Electric and Hybrid Cars A History. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. 2005
-- From the ProEV website (with a correction)