Andrew Riker Drops Out to Build Electric Cars

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Andrew Riker was born in America in 1868, and dropped out of college in his first year to tinker with technology in his parents’ basement. He must have had understanding parents like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates had. Perhaps today’s parents should open their eyes to the fact their rebellious kids might have remarkable talent too.

The Precocious Genius that was Andrew Riker

Andrew Riker Torpedo Racer 1901: Henry Ford Museum

Andrew Riker was just sixteen when he sketched the design for an electric-powered three-wheeler. But within a few years he had established the Riker Electric Company. This later grew to become one of America’s largest manufacturers of electric cars and later trucks.

Riker’s first electric vehicle used two Remington bicycles for the chassis in 1894 because this was a quick solution. By 1896, he had added electric power to an English Coventry Tricycle originally moved by hand cranks. The previous year, Scientific American announced be had done the fastest mile in an electric carriage being 2 minutes, and 13 seconds. This may have been the first-ever American auto race done around a track but we are not sure.

Andrew Riker Abandons Electricity for Fossil Fuel

andrew riker

1896 Riker Electric Tricycle: Joe Ross: CC 2.0

The 1896 Riker Electric four-wheeler proved to be the swansong of the Riker Electric Company. Because the precocious genius, now aged 32 decided to jump ship in 1900 to internal combustion motors for cars.

His electric innovations included the record-holder racer, two-seater runabouts, and dos-à-dos 4-seaters in which the benches faced each other. Moreover, his legacy lived on through electric trucks, after he sold his interests to the Electric Vehicle Company. By 1904, this had made 2,000 taxicabs, trucks, and buses. And set up subsidiary cab and car rental companies from New York to Chicago.

However by then the excitement was over, and so electric cars were fading fast. The Electric Vehicle Company went into liquidation in 1907. Andrew Riker went on to co-found the Society of Automotive Engineers, and he served as the first president for three years.


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About Author


I tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will not deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time. My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast. I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned. Richard Farrell

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