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As manager of one factory engaged solely in manufacturing electric automobiles, I can assure you that the product of our plant has tripled during the last three years. Other manufacturers report a gratifying increase in their business. New manufacturers are entering the business, many of them being oldestablished carriage builders who have selected the electric automobile as the most practical end of the automobile industry for them to enter.
New York city itself is, it is true, full of electric broughams and cabs, but many of you may not be aware of the very large number of new-style broughams that have been put in use in New York city for private and public service in the past two years. Perhaps the example of New York is not considered by out
siders as of very great moment. We are apt to think that New York does things without regard to cost, and the fact that New York is using electric public carriages is no sign that the use of such vehicles will become at all general. As a matter of fact, it is only on private service and trucking service that emphasis is now laid in this article, but public-service broughams and cabs will surely come into use in the smaller cities also. The city of Cleveland has over 800 electric carriages in use; Chicago, over 1000, and manufacturers in both cities do not report a decreasing demand for their product.
Miles and miles of improved streets are going into all the cities and towns, and every foot enlarges the opportunities for automobiles, and especially for electric carriages. The sale of electric
automobiles is not necessarily confined to level cities. An electric automobile, properly constructed, has ample power for hilly places, although, of course, the mileage is reduced. Electric carriages, however, are sold and successfully used in hilly cities like Pittsburgh, Providence, Kansas City and Cincinnati. The fact should not be overlooked that hills which are severe for automobiles are still more severe for horses.
Unquestionably, the electric automobile is used more weeks in the year than any other type. It is commonly spoken of as an "all-the-year-round" carriage. Combinations of closed bodies for winter and open bodies for warm weather make the carriage
comfortable for any kind of weather, and the annoyance from freezing, cranking, and other work that so often attends the operation of other types of automobiles, is not characteristic of the electric, thus rendering it a practical machine for use in winter weather.
As to rates charged, these vary with every locality, but under such conditions as described it is apparent that at least relatively low rates can be quoted with profit. Rates of 2, 2.5, 3 and 4 cents per kilowatt-hour to garages are reported by central stations as very satisfactory to profit-showing. To individual users rates of 5 to 7 flat and 10 cents per kilowatt-hour less quantity
discounts are quoted. But in some places rates are prohibitive. Why not quote favorable rates and encourage the sale of current, especially off the peak, when you can spare it at almost no additional cost?
Something besides rates, however, is necessary. Some one in your employ should take a little time to find out what the carriage owner needs in order to take current from your mains. Be prepared with the approximate cost of wiring installation, also
the cost of charging rheostat for 110 volts direct current, a motor-generator set for high-voltage direct current, and a mercury arc rectifier for alternating current. Decide in advance what current you will furnish, what you will do toward installation, if nothing more than advice and oversight. Cold water could not be more chilling than the lack of a definite policy, a knowledge of what you can and will do, an idea as to the cost of
apparatus for charging, if needed, and the encouragement of reasonable rates.
The amount of current required to charge a carriage varies, of course, and what interests you is the amount of gross income per month. At 5 cents per kilowatt-hour, for example, individual customers average about $6.00 per month, say from $50 to $75 per year, for small carriages used for pleasure or errands; trucks and commercial wagons, relatively more. Garages with 30 boarders have bills at 3 to 4 cents per kilowatt-hour of $200 to $300 per month.
Home-garaging has come to mean in fact what its name indicates. In some cities more people charge their carriages at home than at public garages. Little mechanical or electric attention is needed on the electric carriage, but this is its very source of weakness. What little it needs, it needs regularly. Weekly inspection at the shop is advised; to oil, to keep commutator clean and cells filled with water. These things are easily done and easily learned, but I am talking now of those who want to do nothing at home but charge their carriages.
The mercury arc rectifier is the simplest and cheapest device known for charging electric automobiles from alternating current. It is particularly well adapted for use in private garages where only a single electric is to be charged at a time. It has been on the market long enough to demonstrate its practicability. In Indianapolis fully 20 have been put in service within a year, and reports from their owners are favorable. The result has been a greater use of carriages by owners and consequent increase in the amount of current consumed; and the fact that through this means of charging at home the carriage is available for any errand on short notice, adds to the daily mileage obtained.
The illustration (Figure 6) shows how compactly these instruments can be installed. It is practical to place one of these rectifiers in the home and charge the carriage in the street. When the public are more familiar with the convenience such use of the rectifier affords, the practicability of the electric automobile will be still more appreciated.
What will you think of an electric light company that burns gas for its own lighting? How about those whose officers and managers use horses instead of electric runabouts and employ horse-drawn wagons instead of electric trucks? Beyond all doubt the latter are cheaper and better, work for work. You will find it so if you will use them with the same degree of intelligence you do any other electrical apparatus.
No apology is needed for thus booming electric carriages. Our interests are mutual. The electric-automobile manufacturer sells the car; you sell the current. You push the sale of cigar lighters and curling irons—then by your own example and encouragement push the sale of electric vehicles, and thereby increase the sale of your current.
THE PRESIDENT: I regret exceedingly that we can not discuss this paper to-night, but we hope to have opportunity for doing so to-morrow.
We shall now have the pleasure of listening to Mr. James I. Ayer, chairman of the committee on electric heating and cooking.
MR. JAMES I. AYER (Boston, Mass.): There is no formal report to be presented. The committee, in considering what should be presented at the meeting, concluded to have one of