Andrew L. Riker, SAE's First President
SAE's first president was Andrew L. Riker, an early
pioneer of electric vehicles who later produced the
Locomobile Company's first gasoline-powered car.
Riker served as SAE president for three years, 1905
through 1907. Born in 1868, he produced his first electric
car in 1894, using a pair of Remington bicycles as a
base. The Riker Electric Vehicle Company, based in Elizabethport,
New Jersey, became one of the country's leading manufacturers
of electric vehicles, including cars, trucks, vans and
Riker gained acclaim for his development of high-speed
electric cars. In 1901, his electric-powered racer "The
Riker Torpedo" set a world speed record for electric
cars that stood for ten years. Five-ton electric trucks
produced by the Riker Company were in use in New York
City in the early 1900s.
Riker became vice-president of the Locomobile Company
in 1902, overseeing the firm's production of automobiles
powered by two- and four-cylinder internal combustion
engines. His design of the company's first gasoline-propelled
car included many features which were largely unfamiliar
to the American market, including a sliding gear transmission,
steel frame, and gear-driven electric generator.
In 1904, he designed a special 90-horespower racing
car, and in 1908, he developed Locomobile's "Old
16," the first American car to win an international
race (the Vanderbilt Cup). The victory boosted the reputation
of American automotive engineering throughout the world.
In the World War I era, Riker/Locomobile trucks were
very popular, and heavily advertised in publications
such as Scientific Americanand The Saturday
Evening Post. Riker was appointed to the U.S. Naval
Consulting Board in 1915, chairing the board's committee
on internal combustion motors.
Riker died in 1930. Three Riker electric vehicles, including
a truck and a racer, are housed at the Henry Ford Museum
in Dearborn, Michigan. The book Andrew L. Riker
and The Electric Car - A Biography of the Young Riker
by Neal Donovan, published by McPherson College Press
in 2003, chronicles Riker's early experiments, his contributions
to the fields of electricity and transportation, and
his business dealings.