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The Morrison Electric Automobile & The William Morrison Co.

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Morrison Electric
William Morrison Co.
Des Moines, Iowa
1887-1897

The Morrison Electric was an American Automobile produced by William Morrison in 1887. Morrison was a chemist who became interested in electricity as a young man. Some reports credit him with the first automobile in the world and others first electric automobile. William Morrison was also considered as an electric battery whiz kid that was constantly experimenting with storage batteries.

Morrison built and applied for several patents including one for an automatic regulator for electric current and on an improved method of making storage battery plates. In 1887 Morrison installed his powerful lightweight storage battery in a carriage built by the Des Moines Buggy Co. This first Morrison Electric was not very sucessful.

1890 Morrison Electric
1890 Morrison Electric

In 1890 Morrison built a second electric automobile that was much more sucessful. The Shaver Carriage Company built the carriage for the above 1890 Morrison. A total of about 12 Morrison Electric cars were made.

1890 Morrison Electric Six Passenger Surrey
1890 Morrison Electric Six Passenger Surrey

Specifactions for the 1890 Morrison Electric included 24 storage battery cells mounted under the front seat. The morrison designed and produced the batteries. The 24 batteries had an output of 112 amperes at 58 volts that took 10 hours to recharge. Each cell weighed 32 pounds. The motor developed about 4 horsepower and was mounted beneath the carriage and was then geared to the rear axle.

1890 Morrison Electric Automobile
1890 Morrison Electric Automobile

The steering apparatus was attached to the front axle and was controlled by a hand wheel. A unique rack and pinion device patented by William Morrison moved the front wheels. The motor was energized by a switch that regulated the number of cells cut in and out. The speed of this electric car ranged from six to twelve miles per hour. A range of about 100 miles was obtained without recharging.

1890 Morrison Sturgis Electric Automobile
1890 Morrison Sturgis Electric Four Passenger Automobile

In 1891 Morrison signed a contract with the American Battery Company operated by Harold Sturgis to manufacture and promote the Morrison battery. Sturgis was furnished one of the Morrison Electric cars and demonstrate the merits of the vehicle and it's storage battery. In 1893, Sturgis exhibited his Morrison at the Columbian World's Fair in Chicago. Two years later Sturgis entered a modified Morrison (shown above) in the Chicago's first automobile race.

William Morrison became a very wealthy man from his inventions. He is credited with over 20 patents for devices connected with electric storage batteries. Morrison tested his electric vehicle but never kept one for himself nor did he purchased any other American Automobile.

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