Long elec­tric his­tory

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - LETTERS CARS GUIDE -

VE­HI­CLES with a com­bi­na­tion of a petrol en­gine, an elec­tric mo­tor and a trac­tion-type bat­tery are in the news th­ese days. Yet this con­cept is far from new.

In the 1927, ’38, ’41, ’ 43 and ’ 52 edi­tions of Dyke’s Au­to­mo­bile and Gaso­line En­gine En­cy­clo­pe­dia there is a de­scrip­tion of the Woods Gas­E­lec­tric Car made by the Woods Elec­tric Ve­hi­cle Co of Chicago.

One has a line draw­ing show­ing the ve­hi­cle that was man­u­fac­tured from 1916 to 1918.

It has a four-cylin­der en­gine in com­bi­na­tion with an elec­tric mo­tor­gen­er­a­tor and with a ‘‘bat­tery of 24 cells and 11 plates each’’, which sug­gests 48 volt cur­rent.

In­for­ma­tion from an­other source is that ini­tially the en­gine was de­signed and made by Woods but was un­suc­cess­ful judg­ing by the num­ber of war­ranty claims.

It was soon re­placed with one made by Con­ti­nen­tal.

Clearly Woods had been suc­cess­fully mak­ing bat­tery-elec­tric mo­tor ve­hi­cles for many years but was less skilled at try­ing to give them more range than the bat­ter­ies of the time al­lowed.

How dif­fer­ently au­to­mo­tive en­gi­neer­ing might have pro­gressed if the en­gine-mo­tor-bat­tery com­bi­na­tion had been fur­ther de­vel­oped.

K.E. San­der­coe, Chapel Hill

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