America’s first real electric automobile owed its existence to a Des Moines, an Iowa chemist. William Morris became intrigued by electricity while studying in Scotland, and was particularly interested in storage batteries. However, he wanted one that was small and light enough to have practical uses.
Americas First Real Electric Automobile Was a Marketing Stunt
William Morris owned his first patent for an automatic regulator of electric current by 1890. He worked next at making more efficient storage battery plates in conjunction with one L. Schmidt about whom we know nothing else.
Morris knew these were powerful discoveries but he needed to convince others. So he popped the batteries into a carriage, and used them to power the wheels through a Siemens armature. A bespoke steering mechanism completed what became Americas first real electric automobile. The vehicle was ready for the Seni Om Sed Parade on September 4, 1890.
And the Crowd Roared for William Morris’ Invention
The local junior chamber of commerce held Seni Om Sed Parades on warm summer Friday evenings for fun. The name was actually Des Moines backwards. However, more importantly the Des Moines Reporter said,” the electric buggy met with great applause … although the ring gearing broke down.”
Later that year, William Morris signed an agreement whereby the American Battery Company would manufacture his batteries. And use Americas first real electric automobile they purchased for $3,600 to demonstrate them. However, the electric buggy met with even greater applause at the “World’s Colombian Exposition” opened in Chicago in 1893. This introduced the age of electricity to millions.
Almost everyone who would be influential in early motoring history saw the carriage. William Morris’ electric buggy launched the American motor industry when it rode quietly and smoothly at 14 miles per hour, to the amazement of everyone there.
Preview Image: 1894 Electrobat by Henry G. Morris