Saturday, March 25, 2006

Railways and Main Streets tour, Part Four

The debate on the merits of electric vs gas powered engines goes back to the dawn of the automobile age. We recently visited the local history museum in St Marys, ON where we asked to be taken out to the "barn" to see their 1902 Baker electric car. The Baker Motor Vehicle Co, of Cleveland, Ohio (later Baker, Rauch & Lang Co) manufactured various models between 1899 and 1916.
These relatively clean, quiet and easy to drive vehicles were marketed as city cars for women drivers. They could reputedly cruise a distance of 50 miles (80 km) when fully charged and reach a top speed of 25 mph (40 km/h). In 1915 Baker merged his company with Rauch & Lang, a distinguished Cleveland carriage manufacturer that had entered the electric vehicle business. By that time, the gasoline powered automobile had achieved dominance in the industry, and a few years later the new company stopped producing automobiles and focused on making electric vehicles for industrial purposes. In 1977, Baker was acquired by Linde AG of Germany and a new American company, called Baker Material Handling Corporation was formed. In 1999 it became the Linde Lift Truck Corporation, of Summerville, South Carolina, and today it is part of an international firm that designs and manufactures industrial trucks and hydraulics.

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