In 1910, many things were happening. Haley’s Comet was visible, the Boy Scouts were created, King Edward II passed away, and Ford sold almost 10,000 gasoline-powered motor vehicles. In comparison to the gasoline standard, electric cars were gaining attention, due to their lack of a hand crank and gear shifter. The design of the electric car made things much easier for the average woman of the time, making them an ideal target for advertisement.
One model of electric car that was popular in 1910 was the Waverley Coupe. The 1910 Waverley Coupe was a luxury car that combined quality, value, efficiency, and convenience, making it one of the premier electric cars of the early 1900’s. It seated 4, and was quite easy to customize, allowing for different colors, tops, batteries, and even tires. On top of this, it was relatively affordable, selling at $2,250 - almost $300 less than the popular Detroit Electric.
The Waverley Company, formed from a merger of the American Electric and Indiana Bicycle Companies, boasted quality and convenience in comparison to its price. For example, the silence of the Coupe was one of the company’s main points for advertisement, along with its appearance. The Waverley Company prided itself on using premium materials and brilliant designs to make a ride that rode as smooth as it looked.
The manufacturers of the Coupe showed a great attention to detail, not only by employing multiple inspectors, but by taking each vehicle through a twelve week, twenty-eight step operation for the paint job which used sixteen coats of paint. That’s detail!
In addition to its look, the Waverley Coupe was known for the quality of the ride. The ride of the vehicle was lower,and added drop sills enabled easier access to the vehicle. The vehicle’s body was made primarily from aluminum, providing a weight that would put less wear on the tires than conventional bodies. Dust-proof casings were used to ensure the longevity of parts, while broad windows allowed for complete visibility while driving. On top of this, the Waverley had a patented controller, for the purpose of driver safety. Thanks to this, the vehicle could only be started if it was not moving. For convenience, the reverse speed lever was placed behind the forward lever, and prohibited from being used until the forward speed lever was off.
Despite sales to wealthy individuals such as Thomas Edison, Emile Berliner (inventor of the disk gramophone), and William E. Horlick (creator of malted milk), the company soon went out of business, competing with newer, greater technologies, and the lack of facilities to charge batteries. The Waverley Company closed in 1916.
The Coupe contained a battery that held a charge that could last 50 miles. Today, car companies are researching ways to extend that range, and increase the speed of the electric car. Currently, the Tesla Roadster boasts a range of 220 miles per charge and a top speed of 125 miles per hour. Chevrolet plans to introduce the Volt in 2010, designed for drivers who travel fewer than 40 miles per day. Numerous other automakers are using new technology to jump on the electric car bandwagon. They owe it all to one of the first – the Waverley Electric Coupe.
The 1910 Waverley Electric Coupe shown above can currently be seen at the Northeast Classic Car Museum, Norwich, NY. www.classiccarmuseum.org
Article by Adam Munio