Letter: Electric Autos - Nicola Tesla's View Of The Future In Motive Power

Thursday, December 29, 1904
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December 29, 1904.1 ELECTRIC AUTOS. Nlcnlll 'I‘ep]|\’l View of the Future In Motive Power. [Special Cor. Manufacturers' Record] New York, December 27. In view of the great interest which is being taken in the articles published by the Manufacturers’ Record and some of the magazines on the development of new power-producers, through the internal- tonibusion eng' ie, for use for transporta- tion purposes :oth by l'und and sea, the following signed statement, made by Mr. Nicola Tesla after a discussion of a new type of auto-bus designed by Mr. Charles A. Lieb, mechanical engineer`of the Man- hattan Transit Co., will doubtless be read with much general interest: "New York, December 17. “.l{r. Albert Phenix, Special Correspond- ent Manuftwturers’ Record, New York: "Dear Sir-Replying to your inquiry of yesterday, the application of_ electricity to thc propulsion of automobiles is cer- tainly at rational idea. I am glad to know that Mr. Lielx has undertaken to put it into practice. Ilis long experience with the General Electric Co. and other con- tvrns must have excellently fitted him for the task. “There is no doubt that n highly-suc- cessful machine can he produced on these lines. The field is inexhaustible, and this new type of automobile, introducing elec- tricity hetween the prime mover and the ivlwels, has, in my opinion, a great future. “I have myself for many years advo- \-.xtetl this principle. You will find in numerous technical publications state- ments made by me to this effect. ln my article in the Century, June, 1900, I said, in dealing with the subject: ‘Steamers and trains are still being prtmelletl by the tlirect application of steam power to shafts or axles. A much greater percent- age of thc heat energy of the fuel could he transformed in motive energy by using, in place of the adopted marine engines and locomotives, dynamos driven by specially- tlesignod liigh-pressure steam or gas en- gines, by utilizing the electricity generated for the propulsion. A gain of 50 to 100 per rant. in the effective energy derived from the fuel could be secured in this manner. It is diliicult to understand why a fact so plain and obvious is not receiving more attention from engineers’ “At tirst glance it may appear that to generate electricity by an engine and then apply the current to turn n wheel, instead of turning it by means of some mechanical connection with the engine, is a compli- cated and more or less wasteful process. lint it is not so; on the contrary, the use of electricity in this manner secures great practical advantages. It is but a question of time when this idea will be extensively applied to railways and also to ocean liners, though in the latter case lhc con- tlitious are not quite so favorable. How the railroad companies can persist in us- ing the ordinary locomotive is a mystery. lly providing an engine generating elec- tricity und operating with the current motors under the cars n train can be pro- pelled with greatcr speed and more eco- nomically. In France this has already been done by lleilman, and although his machinery was not the best, the results he obtained were creditable and encour- aging. l have calculated that a notable gain in speed and economy can also he secured in ocean liners, on which the im- |\ro\'e|nent is particularly desirable for many reasons. lt is \'ery likely that in the near future oil \vill lic adopted us fncl, and that will make tht- new xnetliorl of propul- sion all the more connncndablc. The elec- ti-icmnnufncturiiig companies will scarce- ly be able to meet this ne\v demand for generators and motors. "ln automobiles practically nothingl MANUFACTURERS RECORD has been done in this direction, and yet it would seem they offer the greatest oppor- tunities for application of this principle. The question, however, is which motor to employ-the direct-current or my induction motor. The former has certain preferences as regards the starting and regulation, but the commutators and brushes are \'ery objectionable on an automobile. In view of this I would advocate the use of the induction motor as nn ideally simple machine which can never get out of order. The conditions are excellent, inasmuch as a very lo\v frequency is practicable and more than three phases can be used. The regulation should oder little ditiiculty, and once an automobile on this novel plan is produced its advantages will he readily appreciated. “Yours very truly, N. Tasns."