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Some EV History - Page R

Last updated 2004.03.28

Introduction | Acknowledgements | Other Sources of EV History Information
Your Information Is Invited | Why are there so few electric cars?

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Items of Historical Interest in the Development and Commercialization of EVs

- R -

R-1 - see South Coast Technology


[Dead link:] Ransomes Electric Lorry No. 1

[Dead link:] Ransomes Electric Lorry No. 4

Rauch & Lang

One of the better known makes of electric cars from the early 20th century in North America, 3 separate firms produced the vehicles from 1905 to 1922. Initially (1905-1916) the Rauch & Lang Carriage Co. of Cleveland OH, which had been in the carriage making business from the mid-1800s, started to produce a variety of open and closed electric cars in quantity. As part of the consolidation of the industry between 1910 and 1920, the firm merged with Baker Electric to become Baker, Rauch & Lang Co. in 1916 and continued to produce electric cars in Cleveland untill 1922. Production was moved to a smaller plant in Chicopee Falls MA in 1922 under the name Rauch & Lang Electric Car Manufacturing Co. and continued until 1922, but quantities were small during this latter period. The cars produced at Chicopee Falls were known as Raulangs. McLaughlin advertised the availability of an electric car in Canada based on the Rauch & Lang chassis, with the body produced by McLaughlin, such as that shown in the photos below.
1916 Rauch & Lang - side view (colour - 27k)
1916 Rauch & Lang - rear quarter view (colour - 18k)
1916 Rauch & Lang - front view (colour - 17k)
1923 Rauch & Lang - front view (colour - 36k)
1923 Rauch & Lang - left side (colour - 46k)
(vehicle shown in above 2 photos is at the Canadian Automotive Museum at Oshawa)

A 1911 Rauch & Lang was driven in Saskatoon SK from 1912 to 1916. It subsequently became part of the Western Development Museum (also of Saskatoon) in 1948. There is a 1912 Rauch & Lang Towncar in the holdings of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn MI.

Raulang - see Rauch & Lang

Red Bug

This vehicle was essentially an electric version of the Briggs & Stratton Buckboard. A single electric motor drove a single rear wheel powered by two 12-volt batteries. Braking operated on only the other rear wheel. There are three pedals; one was use to operate the brake, the other two controlled the way the batteries were connected to provide some measure of speed control (presumably parallel for lower speed and series for higher speed). The original model was made beginning in 1916 by Milwaukee-based A.O. Smith Co. under the name of the Smith Flyer. Also known as the Auto Red Bug, presumably because it was subsequently produced by the Automotive Electric Service Corp. of Newark NJ, and still later by the Standard Automobile Co. of North Bergen NJ, covering the period 1924 to 1928. The electric motor used was normally a 12-volt Northeast brand (also used by Dodge Brothers vehicles of the period as a starter motor).
Photo of a Red Bug (colour - 31k) courtesy of David Palmer.

Renaissance Cars

Started in the 1990s by Bob Beaumont (the founder of Sebring-Vanguard). After securing funds and having Jim Muir design a racy two seater sports car, Renaissance Cars made 22 prototype vehicles, but due to a lack of financial backing the company was forced to liquidate it's assets. The majority of the assets of the company were bought by a group of Californian Renaissance stockholders which then founded the company, Zebra Motors and they are working on finishing the car and selling the first modern low-cost electric sports car.
See also - Tropica, Zebra


Until the 1990's, Renault's contribution to electric cars was primarily supplying gliders to other firms which then converted them to electric power. Several Renault models served this purpose including the Dauphine (Henney Kilowatt), the R10 (Mars), the R5 (Lectric Leopard), the R12 (EVA Metro) and the R4 which was converted to electric by Electricité de France. Renault began the manufacture of electric cars under their own name in the 1990's in small numbers. Renault also produced a parallel hybrid (diesel and electric) trolley bus in the 1970's and 1980's known as the PER 180, a few of which saw service in Seattle WA, and at least 48 of which saw service in cities in France, notably Nancy. The PER 180 was designed to run as a pure electric in densely populated areas using a pantograph with overhead supply wires, and to operate using the diesel engine only in areas where operating frequency could not justify the installation of the wiring infrastructure. These articulated buses could carry up to 160 passengers, and were capable of feeding power back to the grid using regenerative braking.

Berliet ER 100

Reuter Electric


The Reva is to be built in India, with an estimated price tag of US$5,000. Information as of December 1999, suggests the project is proceeding on schedule. The following photos were provided by David Roden, and are used here with permission.
Front view (colour - 49k)
Rear quarter view (colour - 72k)
Front frame and suspension (another Reva, w/o body) (colour - 83k)
Rear frame, drive axle, and motor (ditto) (colour - 82k)
Interior controls (colour - 67k)


Riker electrics were produced by Riker Electric Motor Co. of Brooklyn NY from 1888 (first car in 1894) to June 1899, then by Riker Electric Vehicle Co. of Elizabethsport NJ until December 1900 and finally by the Riker Motor Vehicle Co (still in Elizabethsport) after 1900, all named for Andrew Lawrence Riker. While the Riker electrics included a variety of cars including a record-holder racer, the production vehicles were mostly 2-seater runabouts and dos-à-dos 4-seaters. The Riker marque is probably best-known however for their heavy electric trucks. After a merger with Electric Vehicle Co., only the trucks continued to be built under the Riker name. There are 3 Rikers in the holdings of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn MI: an 1896 3-wheeler electric Riker 2-seater; an 1898 electric truck (5 ton?); and, the 1901 Riker electric racer which set a world speed record of 57.1 mph. A Riker electric car was used by the Hershey Chocolate Company in Lancaster PA beginning in February 1900. Andrew Riker went on to work in the field of gasoline-powered cars, and became the first president of the American Society of Automotive Engineers.
Photo of Riker and assistant on Riker electric racer (B&W - 37k). This vehicle broke the world land speed record at Coney Island NY on Saturday, November 16, 1901 by traveling a mile in 63 seconds (approximately 57 mph or 91 km/h).
Period advertisement (1899) (B&W - 125k)


The Ripp Electric was a prototype developed by W.E.Rippel in the 1970's. It had a GVW of 1454 kg and claimed a range of 129 km and a top speed of 98 km/h using twenty 6-volt lead-acid batteries (Exide).

Rocaboy Kirchner

This company operates in La Rochelle (France). In the 1980's they produced the Rocaboy Volta, a small 2-seater delivery van. A small number of Rocaboys operated in the Ottawa area in the 1980's.

Ross Auto Engineering



The Royal Automobile Co of Chicago IL produced the Royal in 1905. The car used tiller steering and the runabout model claimed a range of 75 miles on a charge.

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