Educational Value of Sociability Runs

By A. Jackson Marshall
Secretary. Electric Vehicle Association of America, 29 West Thirty-ninth Street. New York.
September 4, 1915 Electrical Review and Western Electrician Vol. 67 – No. 6, pg. 458

When we hear repeatedly of the many successful tests made of the endurance and country-running ability of the electric vehicle by various manufacturers, we must conclude definitely that the use of an electric is no longer confined to city streets and boulevards. We have so long been accustomed to thinking of the electric as the town car, par excellence, that it has not occurred to us that it will give just as delightful and satisfactory service on rural trips in this day, when charging facilities have become so well developed and numerous. While it will always remain the favorite car for city use, the electric in time will become just as great a favorite for interurban trips and short tours. It is a matter of educating the owners of electrics to operate their cars with greater reliance and to make wider and more general use of them. Such series of runs as the Anderson Electric Car Company carried on not long ago in Detroit when one of its stock model broughams made as much as 112 miles on a single battery charge, and the recent endurance runs conducted by the Beardsley Electric Company, of Los Angeles, Cal., when the car registered over 1,500 miles in 14 days, show that there should be no doubts about the electric’s ability to cover ground. The solution of the problem of getting electric owners to use their cars more extensively lies in the Sociability Run.

There is nothing new about the idea. It has been tried sporadically for a number of years, but the time has come for a more systematic and continuous effort to introduce them into all parts of the country. The problem of organizing such runs in cities where the number of electrics warrant such a performance is being met and solved by various sections of the Electric Vehicle Association of America. With an organization of live and progressive men to start the ball rolling and the co-operation of electricity supply stations, manufacturers, garages and owners themselves, everything should conspire to make the runs a success.

In emphasizing Sociability Runs, the writer does not mean to recommend stunts in the nature of mileage test runs, speed contests and the long cross-country tours. These are all variations of the Sociability Run, and have this advertising value, but are not so educational as where the owners themselves take part. When the owners of electrics and their friends participate they not only learn the advantages and capabilities of the electric, but they also familiarize themselves with traffic regulations while passing through town and city streets on their way to the country districts.

In anticipation of Electrical Prosperity Week, scheduled for November 29 to December 4, 1915, the Electric Vehicle Association of America has gathered together various data on how to organize and conduct Sociability Runs. It is the firm conviction of the Association that the introduction of such runs is the very best way to educate the public in the country-running ability of the electric and dispel the idea that it is necessarily a car for city streets only. It is hoped that many runs of this nature will be organized during Electrical Prosperity Week, and that the result! Will be far-reaching in breaking down existing prejudice.

The following suggestions for conducting runs are based on the experiences that several sections of the Electric Vehicle Association have had in successfully organizing them, especially the Washington Section, whose runs have met with great popularity and success. In cities where the Association has a section it has not been found necessary to have a special committee to handle the work, the run being managed by members of the main Executive Committee–those members who are car dealers taking the most active part. The preliminary work to be done is divided up and consists in making provision for the following: Pennants, badges for committee, prizes, refreshments, and the selection of the route. The entries are made by individual owners, no dealer being allowed to enter his car in competition.

To cover the expenses of the run an entry fee is charged–$1 for cars carrying one or two passengers, and $2 for cars carrying three or four passengers. Subscriptions of from $5 to $15 are solicited from central stations, garages, car dealers, battery manufacturers, etc., to cover other expenses.

One of the most successful features of the Washington Sociability Run was the arrangement made for luncheon. instead of serving the party at an inn, each car was provided with a luncheon box put up by the best and most fashionable caterer in Washington, and at the finish the participants forming their own groups voted the appetizing luncheons one of the most enjoyable parts of the run.

The prizes were bought from one of the leading jewelers, and while after the first two or three prizes the remaining were necessarily small, they were the best of their kind obtainable.

As a great many of the entrants are usually women, it is considered wiser not to have any contest that would test the skill of the drivers, and contests bringing out any one feature of a car are apt to result in unfavorable comparisons being made for cars not competing. In the Washington runs it was considered that the route selected should not take materially over an hour to negotiate, and any entrant who was unable to complete the route in an hour and one-half was disqualified. The only competition was against average time made by all contestants completing the run within the time limit; that is, instead of having a sealed time, as is so often done in Sociability Runs, the total elapsed time of all cars completing the run within the time limit was added and divided by the number of entries. The car making the nearest to this time was awarded the first prize.

The Association will be glad to furnish any further details on the organization of Sociability Runs. It is the sincere desire to encourage in every possible way a systematized organization of runs, such as will show the public that for any average country run or week-end trip the electric is entirely capable.