- A unique form of transportation (not a toy).
- Two car batteries provided 12 volts of power to the motor that drove the right rear wheel.
- Single drum brake on left rear wheel.
- 8-10 mph and a 10-30 mile range.
The American Motor Vehicle Company of Lafayette, Indiana, originated this buckboard design in 1916. It sold the patent rights in 1917 to the A.O. Smith Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which sold it to Briggs & Stratton, also of Milwaukee, in 1919. In 1924, the Automotive Electric Service Corporation in Newark, New Jersey (later relocating to North Bergen, New Jersey), began producing this small, electric-powered vehicle.
This type of vehicle was referred to as a “buckboard” because of the oak or hickory slats that served as both frame and body. The motive power of the rear-engine Auto-Red-Bug was electric. Two large car batteries supplied 12 volts to the motor, which drove the right rear wheel. A pedal for the right foot operated the accelerator and the left foot pedal operated a single drum brake in the left rear wheel. The emergency brake was only as powerful as the driver’s foot pressed hard against the road! The batteries allowed a speed of 8 to 10 mph and a driving range of 20 to 30 miles, depending on the load and road.
This small vehicle sold for $325 and was very popular with young people, although adults found them suitable for short trips to the beach or golf course. The buying public, however, preferred the comforts of full-sized automobiles (particularly when good cars sold for between $1,000 and $2,000) and production ceased in 1928.