1916 Rauch & Lang Model BX6 Electric Brougham Chassis no. 60441
Body no. 287
Makers of electrically powered automobiles from 1905, Rauch & Lang of Cleveland, Ohio had previously been active in the carriage trade. The company had been founded in 1884 when wagon builder Jacob Rauch formed a partnership with real estate magnate Charles Lang to manufacture high quality carriages. By the turn of the century, Rauch & Lang's horse-drawn carriages were among the more costly and prestigious available locally.
The company's first venture into 'horseless carriages' came in 1903 with the acquisition of a Buffalo Electric dealership, and in 1905 Rauch & Lang began to build and sell electric vehicles under their own name. By 1916, when the example offered here was made, there were some seven different body styles on offer ranging in price from $2,600 to $4,500. Electric cars were particularly favoured by wealthy urban ladies, being easy to drive and quiet in operation, while their high-torque motors enabled them to carry heavy closed coachwork capable of accommodating several passengers.
However, from around 1912 the increasing adoption of the self-starter on petrol-driven cars diminished the market for the electric alternative and sales of the latter began to decline. In 1915 Rauch & Lang merged with the Baker Motor Vehicle Company, another well-known Cleveland-based builder of electric cars, becoming the Baker R & L Company, The firm was also known - unofficially - as Baker-Raulang, though after 1916 all vehicles carried the Rauch & Lang nameplate.
In 1919, Baker R & L diversified into coachbuilding by establishing its Raulang Body Division while also expanding its range of electric commercial vehicles. The following year its electric car business was acquired by the Stevens-Duryea Company of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts, a manufacturer of petrol-powered luxury cars. Production was transferred to a newly constructed factory there, where Rauch & Lang Incorporated began building taxicabs with either petrol or electric power. The former was the more successful, forming the bulk of production, while the latter proved much less popular, likewise the surviving electric passenger cars. By 1928, production had all but ceased, though in 1929 the company did build an experimental petrol/electric hybrid vehicle, developed in conjunction with the General Electric company. The Wall Street Crash of October 1929 effectively finished off Rauch & Lang.
The current vendor acquired this stately electric brougham from Bonhams' sale at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts in October 2008 (Lot 517). The then vendor reported that the 'matching numbers' body and chassis had been restored, the original interior remaining intact while showing signs of age. The vehicle was said to be fully operational while its 90-volt electric motor appeared to have good batteries. It has been equipped with a built-in charger, negating the need for an external charging device. The ongoing development of non-fossil fuel methods of propulsion has reawakened interest in early electric cars and the example offered here represents a rare opportunity to acquire such a vehicle.