Early automotive events of
interest - a chronology
Henry G. Morris and Pedro G. Salom
construct and test a
Morris & Salom build 4 Electrobats, as they call their new car.
Manufacturing Co., Hartford, CT,
of the Columbia bicycle,
Morris & Salom form the Electric
Carriage & Wagon Co.,
A.L. Riker forms the Riker Electric
Motor Co. in Brooklyn, NY.
of the first
Isaac L. Rice,
president of Electric
Battery Co, and the Electric Boat Co.,
Production begins on the Columbia
by the Pope Manufacturing Co. The vehicles
The automobile division of Pope Manufacturing Co. becomes the Columbia Automobile Co..
Electric Motor Co. is taken over
Electric Vehicle Co. Production of the Riker car
Dodge brothers work for
Canadian Typothetac Company in Windsor,
car goes into production, with the engine in front instead of under the
the Electric Vehicle Co. merge to form the Columbia & Electric
Carl Breer builds his first car - a steam car.
Evans & Dodge Bicycle Co. taken
National Cycle & Automobile Company,
April 17 - James Churchill Zeder
City, MI (youngest brother of Fred M. Zeder).
Vehicle, renamed the Electric Vehicle Company, acquires the Selden
Dodge brothers move to Detroit, MI
a shop on Beaubien Street making bicycles
The Graham brothers, Joseph C.,
Ray A, begin a glass-manufacturing
Waltern P. Chrysler marries Della
is promoted to foreman at Salt Lake City.
Jonathon Dixon Maxwell, of Detroit,
with Charles B. King and W.T. Barbour to
Dodge brothers get contract to build 3,000 transmissions for Olds Motor Works.
Frederick J. Haynes accepts job as manager of H.H.Franklin Company, Syracuse, NY.
Walter P. Chrysler accepts job as
manager of the
Colorado and Southern shops in Trinidad, CO.
J.D.Maxwell leaves Northern and goes
for the Briscoe brothers, Detroit sheet metal
Company joins with nine other car manufacturers to form the Licensed
of Automobile Manufacturers conducts an Endurance Test
Albert A. Pope
from the Electric Vehicle Company, and
production of the
Dodge brothers equip their plant to
for Ford in return for 10% interest in Ford
The Pope company sets up the Pope-Tribune car in Hagerstown, MD, and the
The Mud Larks hold a Reunion Dinner at Madison Square Garden, during the Auto Show.
other firms are formed this year, all independent of each other as well
as the Columbia
The Alden Sampson company had a
build the Moyea chassis and running gear for
of drivers from another firm make a new time of 72 hours 46 minutes,
The Stoddard-Dayton car is built by
son of Henry Stoddard, a Dayton paint
Alden Sampson takes over the
Co. The Moyea becomes the Sampson.
The Maxwell-Briscoe in production with shaft drive instead of the usual chain drive.
Roy D. Chapin and Howard E. Coffin,
jobs as engineers with Oldsmobile, and with
Walter P. Chrysler becomes division chief for of the Fort Worth and Denver City Railroad.
Owen R. Skelton becomes engineer for
Frank Briscoe (one of the Briscoe
provides financial backing for a light car designed
The Columbia four introduces dual carburetors.
of the year brings about the downfall of the Pope empire. The Overland
Owen R. Skelton becomes transmission specialist for Packard Motor Car Company.
Walter P. Chrysler becomes
the shops of the Chicago & Great Western
Talks between the Briscoe brothers
C. Durant to form one big automobile
XLVI, a 4-cylinder gasoline engined vehicle that drove an
With sales sliding at Thomas-Detroit,
Chalmers is brought on board from National Cash
Walter P. Chrysler attends the Chicago Auto Show and purchases a Locomobile.
David A. Wallace becomes a machinist
The Electric Vehicle Company becomes the Columbia Motor Car Co.
Howard E. Coffin and Roy D. Chapin
new lighter car and leave Chalmers-Detroit to
February 24 - Hudson Motor Car
by Roy D. Chapin and Howard E.
Stoddard-Dayton forms the Courier Car
Dayton, OH, to produce a lower-priced car,
Carl Breer and Fred M. Zeder employed with Allis-Chalmers.
Walter P. Chrysler becomes work
of the American Locomotive Co.
Herman L. Weckler joins American
where he meets Walter P. Chrysler.
Company is formed, taking control of Maxwell-Briscoe Motor Co.,
Alden Sampson was run basically as a
the owner not caring if profits were produced
Dodge brothers build a new plant in Hamtramck, MI
Hugh Chalmers, E.R.Thomas and Roy D.
groups dispose of their holdings in the others
The Chalmers-Detroit dropped "Detroit" . Now known as Chalmers.
Hudson Motor Car Company builds its
plant in the Pointe Claire area of
K.T.Keller becomes chief inspector at
plant in Tarrytown, NY.
Production of the Alden Sampson
to Detroit. Truck production continues
Columbia produces a sleeve-valved model, the Columbia-Knight, with 410-cid Knight engine
Stoddard introduces a 525-cid sleeve-valved Stoddard-Knight
Benjamin Briscoe leaves United States Motor Co. and forms Briscoe Motor Co., Jackson, MI
September 12 - the United States Motor Company in receivership
Walter P. Chrysler hired by Charles W. Nash, president of Buick Motor Company, as works
manager in Flint, MI at annual salary of $6,000. Chrysler helped to raise production from
20 cars a day to 550.
K.T. Keller leaves Maxwell-briscoe to become the general superintendant of Northway Motors,
a subsidiary of General Motors Company
Frederick J. Haynes leaves H.H. Franklin Company for Dodge Brothers
December 31 - the Maxwell-Briscoe company becomes the Standard Motor Company,
a Delaware corporation. The company is headed by Walters Flanders (of E.M.F. fame)
The Columbia, Brush, Stoddard and Courier end production
January 25 - The Standard Motor Company becomes the Maxwell Motor Company
* * * * * * *
One of the main roots of the
Chrysler Corporation is
Below is a section from a much longer presentation.
The idea that the Electric Vehicle Company was a failure
is only correct in light of the larger overall picture.
However, in its day the company was very successful,
and a played a major role in the development of the
automobile in this country and around the world!
The Electric Car and the Burden of History:
David A. Kirsch
Reprinted from Business and Economic
History, Volume Twenty-six, no. 2, Winter 1997. Copyright
©1997 by the Business History Conference. ISSN 0894-6825.
The Failure of the Electric Vehicle Company, 1897-1901
The Failure of the Electric Vehicle Company, 1897-1901
In the spring of 1897, the Electric Carriage & Wagon Company established the first motor vehicle service in the United States. Using approximately a dozen vehicles, the EC&WC's electric taxicabs were intended to compete with the horse-drawn cabs then in service on the streets of New York City. A central claim of the dissertation is that this venture-and its many progeny-represented a legitimate alternative technological system to that embodied by the choice of internal combustion.
How did the vision of motorized road transportation put forward by engineers Henry Morris and Pedro Salom differ from that shared by the other automobile manufacturers of the day? Among the several distinguishing features of Morris and Salom's effort, the most important was their decision to retain ownership of the experimental motor vehicles. Morris and Salom were convinced that the motor car-regardless of its motive power-was as yet too complicated and unreliable to be entrusted into the hands of lay operators. Recognizing the latent demand for motor service, Morris and Salom opted to create a transportation service company rather than a simple automobile sales company. In this respect, the two pioneers differed not only from the typical internal combustion vehicle producers, but also from other electric vehicle manufacturers as well.
Morris and Salom's strategy was based upon the model of livery stables that leased horses and carriages by the trip, by the day, or even by the month. They chose not to sell artifacts into the hands of unsuspecting and untrained owners, but instead to design an integrated transportation system. Their initial operating results, self-reported in the automotive press after six months of service, suggested that their vehicle service was not yet competitive with the horse-drawn cabs. Daily mileage averaged approximately 11 miles per cab, and using cost estimates from studies conducted at MIT in the early 1910s, the electric vehicle service was almost certainly a money loser during its first half-year. Yet, regardless of its initial profitability, the venture established an alternative to horse-drawn passenger transportation service and demonstrated sufficient potential to encourage the owners to expand the fleet from a dozen to over 100 electric vehicles.
Over the course of the following four years, the electric vehicle service started by Morris and Salom blossomed into the largest automobile enterprise of the day. At its height the Electric Vehicle Company was both the largest vehicle manufacturer and the largest owner and operator of motor vehicles in the United States. With multiple assembly plants, operating companies in the half-dozen largest cities in the country, and sales agents from San Francisco to Mexico City to Paris, the EVC was also one of the first American motor vehicle makers to move away-however tentatively-from the small-scale production of custom-made vehicles that dominated the emerging industry in the 1890s. Rather, the expansive, multi-divisional corporate structure of the EVC anticipated some of the innovations in corporate governance-Alfred Chandler's managerial revolution-which would spread through the rest of the automobile industry in the decade following the collapse of the EVC. Unfortunately, following its takeover by the Whitney-Philadelphia syndicate, the Electric Vehicle Company also became synonymous with trust building, stock jobbing, financial chicanery, and the infamous Selden patent.
Had the EVC succeeded in establishing profitable operating companies in major urban areas, and had those companies attracted customers, suppliers, and infrastructure providers to the electric vehicle bandwagon, it is possible to envision a radically different transportation system today. As it was, the enterprise was beset by problems, from production delays and warehouse fires to shareholder suits and blistering public attacks. Although several regional operating companies were established and perhaps 2,000 vehicles distributed to them, by 1902 all had declared bankruptcy, and the parent company was reduced to little more than a holding company for the contested Selden patent. The assets of the New York branch were transferred to a local operator, and the vehicles were used intermittently for service in and around Central Park for several more years. An unfavorable legal decision and an economic downturn would ultimately force even the EVC itself into default in December, 1907, ending once and for all the founders' dreams of electric cabs on every corner in every major American city. Between its humble beginnings and its ignominious collapse, the EVC demonstrated that electric vehicles could provide valuable transport service.