Model A Ford Model (1922)
In 1952, most people scoffed at the suggestion that Ford could ever develop a viable electric motor system. American automaker Henry Ford had taken something just like an electric motor and mounted it on top of a motorized automobile, and calls his car the Model A.
The Model A was a bizarrely styled (for that era) pint-sized motorcycle-inspired car, with some of the finest leather interior colouring in the U.S. At nearly 15 feet long and 6 feet wide, the Model A was a real long-distance hybrid of electric vehicle and pneumatic horse-drawn transportation. It was incredibly fuel efficient, allowing owners to achieve over 25 miles per gallon in the early days of the Model A’s development. Ford soon sought other applications for its electric motors.
It had been several years since the breakthrough in micro-motor development that was electrically powered bicycle technology; then, Ford and other automotive entrepreneurs were experimenting with battery-powered vehicles that could provide significant amounts of torque and jumpstart the market for battery-powered powertrains.
Small electric motors fitted onto the spares rack of fenders or lower bumper (where they could be driven in tight parking spaces, and with only a few flicks of the rear wheel, similar to that provided by a car) provided plenty of power to drive the lightweight Model A’s for short distances, if a driver was lucky enough to have a power adapter, or a bit of imagination. But power was not always available where it was needed. If the gearbox was full, the owner often had to manually break the car in, and if the drive motor was not entirely operational, the Model A would falter and skid when changing a gear.
Ford also had applications for its electrical motors in a number of areas that not only were closer to the average person’s everyday needs, but were also for the initial development of manufacturing and assembly lines. For example, the miniature electric motor could be fitted to piston-driven screw-wound hydraulic reels in sub-assembly areas, and with in-dash recorders and teletype machines capable of checking in on the quality of each spares run, the vehicle’s mechanical and electrical systems were checked and monitored. Electric engine drive systems worked smoothly with petroleum- powered vehicles, since any mechanical problems could be easily fixed using a simple lubrication of the piston. It would be only a few years before we could buy hand-cranked horse-drawn carriages that were electrically powered.
Rather than continuously plugging in a battery or Cylinder Head device, Ford quickly deployed a simple pair of Eaton amps on the wheel, in order to power both an electric motor and the internal combustion engine. Because the car could be kept in “cradle mode”, there was no need to increase the battery size.