Educational Wave of Sociability Runs


The Value of Systematized Tours for Creating Public Confidence in the Electric for Long Distance Performance

Secretary, Electric Vehicle Association of America.
September, 1915 – ELECTRIC VEHICLES magazine Vol. VII, Number 3

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 temerity 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 when the car registered over 1,500 miles in 14 days, show that there should be no doubt about the electric’s ability to cover ground. The solution of the problem of getting electric vehicle owners to use their cars more extensively lies in the promotion of sociability runs.

A View of Beardsley Electrics En Route on Test 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 electric vehicle interests. 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, it is not the purpose 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 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 of 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 this prosperity week, and that the results will be far-reaching in breaking down existing prejudice.

Mrs. Volney Beardsley and Official Observers Attending Test Run.

The following suggestions for conducting runs are based on the experiences had in successfully organizing them, especially in Washington where they 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 committees, 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 the balance of the expenses.

Beardsley Roadster Having a Speed of 40 Miles an Hour.

One of the most successful features of Washington sociability runs 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 entries 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 were added and divided by the number of entries. The car making the nearest to this time was awarded the first prize, etc. This has been found an extremely satisfactory and fair method.

Over 1,500 miles in 14 days is the latest sociability run record. This extraordinary record in electric vehicle efficiency was made in the recent endurance test, held by the Beardsley Electric Company of Los Angeles, California. Mrs. Volney Beardsley volunteered to drive the car for the first 10 days, being accompanied each day by different women representing the press and acting as observers. During the last 4 days the car was driven by owners of Beardsley electrics, to further demonstrate the possibilities of an electric when driven by any careful operator. Mrs. Beardsley timed her days so successfully that in no case did the daily run fall below 100 miles, the average daily mileage being 106.6.

On the tenth day when she believed the test was coming to an end, she decided to make the longest record of the 10 days and registered 117 miles. In each case the day’s run was made on a single charge of the batteries. The last 4 days increased the average to 107.5 miles per day, or a total of 1,505.6 miles covered in 14 days.

As to the battery efficiency, the owners themselves were not sure at the beginning whether the batteries, after being practically exhausted on 100-mile run each day, could be charged over night ready to repeat the performance the following day. They proved, however, that this could be done, not only for a second day, but for a steady two-weeks’ grind, and upon examination of the batteries at the completion of this 1,500-mile run, the plates were in most excellent condition, showing that the car was probably capable of keeping up this same average for a long time. The runs were made over all kinds of California roads, covering different routes, the greater part of which were country runs over hilly ground. Each night the car came into the garage on its own power, showing that the batteries were never completely exhausted.