Car History Year 1922
Date: Sunday, September 26 @ 21:58:43 UTC
As we are currently progressing in the
21st century, it seems possible that the electric car will become a significant part of daily transport in the future, yet at one period it was the most favored method of automobile propulsion. The reasons for this were obvious - the electric car was clean, ran smoothly and quietly and didn't require either the vigorous hand cranking of the gasoline engine, or the laborious firing of a steam boiler to get it started up in the morning.
Electric power was also a familiar technology, with Thomas Edison having introduced electric lighting to New York in 1881, and most large cities had electric streetcars. The gasoline engine, on the other hand, was still in its infancy and suffered from plenty of teething troubles. The downside was that electric vehicles were expensive, heavy, and had a limited range before the batteries needed recharging.
For use in the city streets, however, the electric car was unsurpassed and so it became extremely popular with the wives of the wealthy, even indicating a certain social status and, at one time, there were many makes available to the discerning buyer. One of the more famous of these was Rauch & Lang. Formed as a carriage building company in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1884, Rauch & Lang entered the automobile business in 1903 by taking on an agency for the Buffalo Electric car. The first Rauch & Lang electric followed in 1905 and things progressed from there, the marque establishing itself as a supplier of quality automobiles. One of the largest electrics ever made was the 1912 Rauch & Lang six person town car, costing $3,800.
Sales of electric cars, or "juicers" as they were sometimes called, peaked in 1914 with 4,669 units. These were mostly elegant carriages, very tall, with large areas of glass and plush interiors. The major problem with the electric car was battery life and this is still true today. Although a range of between 30 and 75 miles was possible, depending on the speed driven, overnight recharging was necessary which meant plugging in to special equipment in the owner's garage. Another disadvantage was the sheer weight of the batteries, around 1,000 pounds on an average car, which slowed acceleration somewhat. In addition, the batteries generally needed replacing after about three years and this also proved expensive.
All Rauch & Lang electric cars were similar in appearance. With no need for a radiator, they had a rounded-off nose and almost all had a very upright stance and a virtually flat roof with sharp corners. This design was common to almost all electric cars of this period. But travel horizons were expanding and, whereas a top speed of 20mph and a range of under fifty miles was fine for local journeys, long distance trips were another matter. Lengthy promotional journeys were mounted by electric car manufacturers to counteract these shortcomings, and a Detroit Electric even managed to exceed 200 miles between charges on one trip, but the need for more frequent recharging remained the norm.
By 1919, the market for electric cars was in decline, mainly due to improvements in the gasoline engine and the wider availability of the self-starter. Even so, Rauch & Lang were still producing 700 cars a year. In 1920 the passenger car part of the business was sold to the Steve ns-Duryea organization and moved to Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts.
In 1922, Rauch & Lang Inc. (as the new company was called) started producing electric powered taxi cabs, and this seems to have been the mainstay of their production for the few remaining years of the business, which closed in 1928. Towards the end they were building as many, if not more, gasoline powered taxis as they were electric cars.
RAUCH & LANG
Bore and stroke
No. of seats
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