Sunday, 5 February 2017

1926 DEW Electrowagen

J S Rasmussen purchased the struggling Slaby-Beringer firm in 1924. Slaby-Beringer began manufacturing a small electric powered 'klein-wagen' and, although a very basic vehicle, it sold relatively well. Jorge Rasmussen had placed a large order with the company but financial problems prevented them from fulfilling the order. In typical fashion, Rasmussen purchased the company and  and made Rudolf Slaby his director of vehicle development.

In 1926 Rasmussen and Co developed the Slaby-Beringer electrowagen into a fully fledged electric car. Construction principles remained largely the same as the earlier kleinwagen, being a self-supporting plywood body without a chassis. An AEG electric motor provided the power. Range was limited to 100 kilometres, or less if in delivery van specification. This was an inherent limitation of electric vehicles of the time as batteries were not particularly effect. The DKW brand name was not applied to the electrowagen, but Rasmussen used a similar acronym - DEW, with the 'E' meaning 'electric.'

The car was produced in small numbers until replaced by the DKW P-15 in 1928.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

1921 J S Rasmussen Machinenfabrik prospekt

In 1919 J S Rasmussen and Company demonstrated an 18cc two-stroke 'toy' engine. It wasn't a toy per-se but a proof of concept that the company shopped around at industrial shows to drum up business. The 'toy' was soon replaced by a 30cc clip on bicycle motor. Soon DKW began manufacturing their own bicycles. It would only be a matter of time before they were manufacturing fully fledged motorcycles.

A major part of the company's business was stationary and industrial engines, which were used in all manner of applications, such as small cars and motorbikes, motorboats and outboards. The company also attempted to develop a 'kleinstauto' (micro-car) of their own. Called the DKW 'bergsteiger' (little hill climber). It wasn't a success, as the engines of the period did not have sufficient power. Only a small number were ever built.

Looking for an alternative to break into the kleinstauto market, DKW managing director Jorge Rasmussen stumbled across the Slaby-Beringer electrowagen. He liked what he saw and placed an order. When Slaby-Beringer fell into financial difficulties in 1924 he bought the company. Within a year Slaby-Beringer were manufacturing a two-stroke powered version with an improved DKW engine.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

1919 Slaby-Beringer Elektrowagen

DKW's inter-war car designs can trace their origin to the 1919 Slaby-Beringer Elektrowagen. Rudolf Slaby had been an aeronautical engineer during the First World War, but like many others was forced to try his hand in other industries after the Treaty of Versailles banned Germany from building aircraft. Slaby developed a small electric motor which he then installed in a simple cyclecar. The cyclecar's body was simple plywood box without doors.

Slaby joined forces with his cousin, Hermann Beringer, to begin building a saleable version and began shopping it around. They managed to secure a large export contract to Japan along with some small domestic sales. The largest domestic order of Elektrowagens was from DKW owner, Jorge Rasmussen, who ordered 20 cars in 1920.

Unfortunately the fledgling company was adversely hit by the German economic crisis and by 1924 was plunged into insolvency. Rasmussen saw an opportunity in Slaby-Beringer's crisis and offered to buy out the company. Both Slaby and Beringer took shares in the Rasmussen Group of companies and Slaby became the chief engineer at DKW's newly formed automobile division. By the time the company closed its doors in September 1924 2005 Elecrowagens had been built. The last 266 cars were powered by a DKW motorcycle engine mounted at the rear.

As Rasmussen's chief automobile designer Rudolf Slaby would build on the lessons learned from the Elektrowagen for DKW's first real car, the P-15 of 1928.