wtorek, 4 grudnia 2018

Baker Electric Roadster [x5]

Steam, fuel or electricity?

The rapid development of automobiles falls on 1880s. The earliest cars, often referred to as horseless carriages were often powered by steam engines. Like a tricycle built by Peugeot in 1889 (only four made). Nevertheless, one of the most obvious disadvantages of steam technology was long warm-up time, which could take up to 50 minutes and could easily freeze in the winter.

At the turn of the century steam engine experienced a strong competition from rapidly developing internal combustion engines and... electric vehicles. I even found a note saying that "at the beginning of the 20th century, 40 percent of American automobiles were powered by steam, 38 percent by electricity, and 22 percent by gasoline". The noticeable advantages of the electric engine against gas powered included at the time no vibration, smell, noise or gear changes (hence sometimes referred as women's car). On the other end of course, low range.

With the mass production of the Ford Model T (since 1908), however, the price of gas-powered cars has fallen making electric and steam-powered cars effectively much more expensive to buy. This very example is Baker Electric Roadster from 1908. In the museum note I found the following:

"Elegant, electrically powered sports roadster by the American marque Baker which at the time was one of the largest producers of electric city cars in the US. With thes model Baker tried to make his electric cars look like the petrol-powered competition. The radiator, however, had no function and the batteries were located in the front under the "bonnet". The floor-mounted dashboard was made up of one Volt and one Ampere gauge. The battery charger can also be seen here.

Walter Baker started working with electric motorcars as early as 1893 and set up his own company in 1899. Although he was successful initially, the popularity of the electric car waned due to the due to the rapid development of the internal combustion engine. The invention of the electric starter, for example, made cranking a thing of the past. Baker halted the production of electric cars in 1916."

/ Louwman Museum, The Hague, The Netherlands

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