Horseless eCarriage

For more than a century, horse-drawn carriages have been iconic fixtures in New York City. But the Big Apple's new mayor, Bill de Blasio, has been on a crusade to put an end to the nostalgic rides, saying the carriages are cruel to the horses and a common source of traffic congestion. Amid this simmering controversy, a possible replacement for the horses emerged Thursday at the New York Auto Show. That's when Jason Wenig, an automotive restoration expert and Brooklyn native, unveiled the Horseless eCarriage, a battery-powered creation that took six years to plan and build.

On display in the lobby of the Jacob Javits Center, the antique-looking vehicle is at once a throwback to an earlier era in automotive history and a model of current electric-car technology. It can carry eight passengers, reach a top speed of 30 miles per hour and travel about 100 miles on a single charge. The 46-kWh battery feeds into a variable speed AV motor that produces – no pun intended – 84 horsepower. It's also huge, with a 158-inch wheelbase, a width of 88 inches and a height (to the top of the windshield, without the convertible hardtop) of 86 inches. It also weighs 7,500 pounds with driver and eight passengers.

"If you're going to do something, it's got to be big, bold and daring" – Jason Wenig

Perhaps most importantly, it seeks to retain the charm of the horse-drawn carriage. "I said to them, 'If you're going to do something, it's got to be big, bold and daring,'" Wenig said of his first conversations about the car. "If people are about to lose the brand they understand, this has got to fill that vacuum powerfully."

Not everyone is enamored with the idea. Traditionalists in the city say the carriages comprise a romantic part of the city's fabric, and they oppose the mayor's efforts to end the horse-drawn carriage era. So do carriage operators, who depend on the rides for their livelihoods.

A poll conducted by Quinnipiac University showed that 64 percent of New Yorkers support the carriages pulled by the actual equines. Actor Liam Neeson has been a vocal opponent of the mayor, and wrote an editorial supporting continued use of the horses this week in The New York Times. "An entire way of life and a historic industry are under threat," he wrote. "We should ask whether this is the New York we want to live in: a sanitized metropolis, where local color and grit are thrown out in favor of sleek futuristic buildings and careening self-driving cars?"

The Horseless eCarriage project was commissioned by NYCLASS, an animal-rights organization that is seeking more humane treatment of the horses. The group approached Wenig about six years ago to ask about the project, and as a native New Yorker an animal lover, it was a natural fit. "I'm not necessarily an activist, but I am an animal lover, so I understood where they were coming from," he said. "All of the sudden, I'm in the barn, trying to hammer out steel."

Sixty-eight carriages would be needed to replace the current stable of horses. Although it took Wenig the past six months to construct the first (and so far only) eCarriage prototype, he believes he could construct the entire fleet in a matter of months, should the project go forward. His current operation is located in Dania Beach, FL, but he says he may open another shop back in his hometown, to help complete the project quickly. In a Google Hangout last week, de Blasio said he expects to take action on the horse issue within the year, so you've got time to peruse the official press release below.
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NYCLASS Announces Unveiling of Horseless eCarriage Prototype to Take Place of Horse Carriages
Fleet of Vehicles Would Be Manufactured in New York City

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New York, NY. – (Apr. 17, 2014) – Blending early 20th century style, nostalgia and romance with 21st century eco-technology, comfort and safety, the Horseless eCarriage – the first brass-era-type car in more than a 100 years – made its global debut today at the New York Auto Show.

The eight-passenger, fully electric prototype balances incredible visual appeal with NHTSA safety standards and society's desire for clean transportation, according to TCW president/owner Jason Wenig, who also designed the lithium ion battery-powered Horseless eCarriage. The rear-wheel- drive, 84-horsepowered vehicle (with 184 ft.-lbs of torque), has a top speed of 30 mph and a range of 100 miles.

"We're confident the vehicle we've created is a worthy successor to the original brass-era horseless carriage that roamed the canyons of New York City back in the day," said Wenig. "The Horseless eCarriage celebrates the style and personality of that era."

The car, commissioned by NYCLASS, was created to put a spotlight on New York City as the leader in urban ecotourism, creating a unique and memorable experience for visitors from all corners of the world. This 21st century horseless carriage would be manufactured locally in one of the five boroughs, creating jobs and bringing a new industry to the city.

The Horseless eCarriage is about the same size as an original touring car or depot hack of the early 20th century era.

"It's an open design with a removable top to increase the passenger experience. There are styling elements that underscore the design of the era – oversized windshield, large exposed wheels, period lighting and of course, brass. It definitely reflects and celebrates an era that has amazing historical significance to New York City and to car lovers everywhere," said Wenig.

Horseless eCarriage Specs

HEIGHT AND WEIGHT
Height: 86" (top of windshield. Not including convertible top)
Width: 88" (edge of fender to edge of fender)
Wheelbase: 158"
Wheel to wheel (front "track"): 76"
Wheel to wheel (rear "Track"): 75"
Ground clearance: 12"
Curb weight: Approx. 7,500 lbs fully laden with driver and 8 passengers Permitted payload: 10,000 lbs
Seating capacity: 8 passengers (6 in the rear, 2 up front with the driver)

PERFORMANCE AND EFFICIENCY
Engine type: Variable Speed AC motor
Drive system: Rear drive (front motor, driveshaft to rear axle)
Maximum hp/torque: 84 HP, 184 ft.-lb. torque
Top speed: 30 mph. GPS-regulated automatic 5 mph in Central Park (Geo-fence controlled)
Acceleration (0-30 mph): Gentle, controlled acceleration for tourism trade Range: 100 miles
Charging time: 6 hours @ 220Volts
Battery type: Lithium Iron Phosphate
Transmission/gear configuration: Mid-chassis gear box – single speed, rear axle differential

HANDLING, RIDE AND BRAKING
Wheel dimensions: 26" x 6"
Tire type: Goodrich Silvertown 10ply. 38x7 (40" diameter)
Brake system: Hydraulic, dual master cylinder, 4 wheel disc brakes Shock system: Leaf spring packs – 4 corners
Steering system: Steering box
Turning radius: 32'

EXTERIOR
Body materials: Wood & aluminum
Roof materials: Convertible top: aluminum & stainless – Stay fast cloth Wheel materials: Aluminum

INTERIOR
Seat material: Automotive grade vinyl – "diamond tufted"
Heating: Propane heating system (Attwood RV system) – rear and front cabin heat and defrost

SAFETY and SECURITY
Safety belts: Lap belts at all seating positions. Driver and outboard front have retractable lap belts
Turn signals: LED turn signal lights, integrated into custom reproduction E&J Brass "oil lamps." All lighting on vehicle (headlights, turn signal, reverse, park, courtesy, DOT/safety lights are all LED)
Horn: Bulb horn (squeeze) & Klaxon (electric) "Ahooga" horn
Propane tank safety systems: DOT-approved propane tank with appropriate safety valves
NHTSA classification: MPV 10,000lb GVWR

About The Creative Workshop
The Creative Workshop (TCW) is a world-renowned classic car restoration, customization, performance and coach building business located in Dania Beach, Fla. For nearly 15 years, TCW has been entrusted with the forensic restoration and care of some of the world's most rare, unique and specialty vehicles. Cars designed and restored by TCW have been invited to, and have won awards at, the top car events on the planet, and have been covered in countless magazines, books and on TV. Details: http://www.thecreativeworkshop.com/

About NYCLASS
NYCLASS is a non-profit animal advocacy organization that believes in the power of organizing and mobilizing the animal protection voting bloc to move humane legislation. Founded in 2008, NYCLASS has grown to over 110,000 supporters with activist chapters in all five boroughs. We love animals, and we vote.