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Columbia

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Template:List of Columbia ModelsColumbia Automobile Company was a leading early US manufacturer of electric automobiles.

Columbia Automobile Company was created as a joint venture of the Motor Vehicle Division of the Pope Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut and the Electric Vehicle Company in 1899. At the turn of the Twentieth Century they were producing and selling hundreds of vehicles a year under Pope's Columbia brand name, while most gasoline engine automobile manufacturers had made only a few dozen cars.

Columbia's basic runabout was typical of the time, resembling a horseless carriage, steered via a tiller, for $850, $200 more than the contemporary Curved Dash Olds. The 1200 pound, single bench seat vehicle had a wheelbase of 64 inches, and rode on 30 inch wooden spoked wheels, with leather fenders. The drivetrain had clear evolutionary roots in Pope's bicycle business, driving the rear axle via a chain drive which accounted for virtually the only operating noise. Between the motor and the chain drive was a transmission with three forward speeds and two reverse speeds. Twenty batteries manufactured by Exide Batteries, also associated with Electric Vehicle Company, were placed above both axles so as to balance the weight. Brakes on both rear wheels featured a bell, which rang when the vehicle reached a full stop. Top speed was about 15 miles per hour.

In addition to the runabout, Columbia had a range of about 20 electric vehicles all the way up to electric buses, and including taxis and police cars. The vehicles were most popular in cities, where the relatively smooth roads made the superiority in smoothness and silence of the electric motor over the gasoline engine obvious, and where electrical supply for recharging was easily found within the runabout's 40 mile range. Nevertheless, in 1903, a Columbia was driven from Boston to New York city, a 250 mile trip, accomplished in 23 hours. In keeping with this urban orientation, the Columbia was positioned as a high-end vehicle, with its showroom across the street from the Metropolitan Opera House in New York.

In 1908, the company was renamed the Columbia Motor Car Co. and in 1910 was acquired by United States Motor Company.

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