Wednesday, August 11, 2010

1904 New York New York electric tour busses

These “Automobile buses” were made by the Vehicle Equipment Company of Long Island City, New York. Their literature called them “A combination of the commercial and pleasure types.”

The Vehicle Equipment Company was started in Brooklyn in 1901 by Robert Lloyd and Lucius T. Gibbs. By 1903 they had relocated to Long Island City on Borden Avenue.

From 1901 to 1906 they built a large number of commercial electric vehicles including broughams, victorias, hansoms, landaulets, and delivery trucks, ambulances, brewery trucks, tipping coal trucks, etc., and of course, sightseeing buses such as those above. From 1903 to 1905 they also built a 3-seat electric car called the VE Electric. Almost all of their vehicles were single motor shaft-drive. The company went into receivership in 1906, and the General Vehicle Company (GeVeCo), owned by the General Electric Company, purchased the factory and reorganized to build both gasoline and electric vehicles, as well as replacement parts. Vehicles built from mid-1906 on were known as GV Electrics.

By 1915 there were some 2,000 GV Electrics in New York City alone, representing more than 25% of all trucks of all types working daily in the city. The style of “Automobile bus” seen above was also very popular in Washington D.C. and other cities as well.

By this time GeVeCo was building under license the French-designed Gnome rotary engine (used in the first Fokker triplane) and they had the exclusive rights for Daimler Motoreen Gesellschaft airplane motors and were building the American Daimler truck and the Mercedes gasoline truck in addition to their own gasoline and electric vehicles.

In November 1915 General Vehicle Company announced the takeover of the Peerless Motor Car Company of Cleveland, Ohio. They formed the Peerless Truck and Motor Corporation, which was designed to expand their export trade.

During WWI the US Army bought a large number of Peerless trucks and England purchased 12,000 Peerless Truck Chassis. GeVeCo also built and exported hundreds of the Gnome aircraft engines. During the war they concentrated on these but weren’t building them fast enough to suit the government, so the War Department took over most of the factory to speed up production. Apparently vehicle production ceased at this time. A year later the entire factory was sold to Wright-Martin Aircraft Corporation for $1,000,000.

General Vehicle Company did not resume building vehicles after the war, and even Peerless Truck and Motor Corporation ceased production in 1918 (the Peerless Motor Car Company continued to build cars until 1932).

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