Riker Electric: the electric car that won the first gasoline races

the electric car

The Riker Electric model was an electric car of the primitive phase of the automotive industry that was gaining speed at the gasoline of the moment.

In 1898 Andrew Riker had been immersed in the development of electric motor vehicles for almost 15 years. It was the time when the first cars began, all rods and wooden bodywork.

In these times several types of engine still coexisted: the electric, the gasoline and the steam. The last one was an inheritance of the railroad, of the first industrial revolution. But this did not rule him out for the race by becoming the dominant technology. Gasoline was a new fuel, from which they were just beginning to explore its possibilities. And electric power had already proven its efficiency in domestic and industrial uses.

It was the time of the automotive pioneers. When the inventors, in the nineteenth-century style of trying everything and in all ways, put together impossible vehicles that advanced between snorts and convulsions. Among them, the Riker Electric stood out, one of the most sophisticated old electric car models.

It was built by the Riker Electric Motor Company and was owned by Andrew, the company’s founder. Its appearance resembles that of a horse car. Well, at that time cars were simple alternatives to the saloons used in cities. The Riker Electric seems ready to be tied by four sorrels that pull him. But they are not necessary. With a lever the vehicle is able to propel at a speed of 64 km / h.

The car had the capacity to travel 80 kilometers with its electrical storage system. A feat for the time. It was also worthy of its top speed, which allowed it to win races even on gasoline cars.

Riker Electric

The Riker Electric of 1898, ready for auction in California, won several races in the years following its manufacture. Both gasoline and steam cars fell before his repression. In some photographs that turn yellow, Andrew himself can be seen driving his vehicle before a crowd full of public.

Look back to see more forward
Today it doesn’t sound so strange to us that an electric motor is capable of beating a gasoline engine. The automotive sector has turned its attention to electric cars as an alternative to internal combustion. So much so that many countries have considered banning the latter. The year 2040 seems to have achieved some international consensus in running as a limit.

However, the current period is similar to those heroic times where everything was to be tested. Although the electric motor seems to have won the favors of the industry, the storage system is not yet defined. It is true that lithium ion has the advantage of being the dominant technology, but some brands explore hydrogen. An alternative that, like any alternative, has pros and cons.

Interestingly, during the last decades of his life Andrew was dedicated to facilitating the transition from the electric car to the gasoline car in the American automobile industry, where the former had found deep roots.

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