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1902 Baker Electric Runabout

One of the many electric car manufacturers to emerge at the beginning of the 20th Century, the Baker Electric Motor Vehicle Company of Cleveland, Ohio was, by 1910, able to boast "More than three times as many Baker Electrics are sold each year than of any other make". Founded by Walter C.Baker, who graduated from the Case School of Applied Science in 1891, the first Baker Electric car appeared at the National Automobile Show held at Madison Square Gardens, New York City in 1900.

With petrol cars proving dirty, noisy and tiresome to crank start and steam cars having limited range and a long warm-up period, electric cars were proving extremely popular in the early 1900s, particularly in towns and cities where their limited range was less of a concern.

The earliest Baker electric models were available in two variants, the Imperial Runabout, costing $850 and the more luxurious Phaeton Stanhope. Both used a proprietary chassis with a centrally-located electric motor powered by 12-cell batteries. With two speeds, the 1902 Baker was capable of six and twelve miles per hour and the Runabout weighed just 295 kgs.

In an attempt to prove the electric car was capable of decent speeds, Walter C.Baker built a speed record car in 1902 powered by a 12 hp Elwell-Parker motor and at Staten Island in June 1902 managed to cover the mile in 47.0 mph before crashing into the crowd, killing two spectators. After setting several speed records the following year, Baker hung up the helmet and goggles and concentrated on production, becoming the biggest selling electric car by 1910.

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