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2.—The Extent of the Use of Commercial Vehicles.
WE CONCLUDED our consideration of this subject, in last week's issue, with the assertion that almost every decrease under first costs and operating costs means progress justifying a further step in the revolution from horse to motor. The rate at which the great change is justified depends, among other things, upon the cosk of labour. The higher wages go, the more does it become necessary to put motors in the place of horse vehicles. This is, of course, for the simple rea,son that, in almost all circumstances, a motor vehicle in the charge of one or two men, as thecase may be, can take the place of anything from two to five or six horsed-vehicles involving the employment of one or two, men each. 'In this one respect, then, an increases in operating costs of the motor (coming under the heading of wages) means an argument for, and note against, the employment of the motor vehicle. The war, by permanently putting , up the price of labour, has given an immense stim'ulus to the use of trade motors.
In thise as in all other cases involving the introduction of labour-saving machinery, there must be a tendency towards payment of higher wages and a bigger differentiation between the skilled and the unskilled man. During the war tens of thousands of men have been familiarized with the handling of commercial vehicles. There should be no lack of good drivers possessing sufficient knowledge to enable them to effect the ordinary roadside rePairs and adjustments. . Once a man has risen in the scale of education and understands how to control machinery, he is not going back to the position of a carper, Consequently, on the balance there will he a greater number of men seeking situations in charge of motors and a lesser number than hitherto reverting to the charge of horses. This fact should create a limited tendency in the direction of preventing the wages of motor drivers fieen riging to an excessive figure, and at the same time should tend to make it possible for a carter, while earning less than a motor driver, to get high pe,y•in proportion to the work he does.
The war has aot only led to the training of immense numbers of drivers, but has brought the whole of the employer class into direct contact, with the comenereial vehicle under conditions which ensure a proper appreciation of its merits. A man who has found it possible to depend largely for years for his food supplies and his ammunition on the reliability of motor transport can never again regard the motor lorry as experimental or unreliable. When -the war is over these will be, in every considerable business, men who have gained experience of this kind, and whose influence will be in favour of the use of motors for all kinds of delivery and haulage work.
, The Sphere of the Electric Vehicle.
,During the war, the difficulty of obtaining petrol vehicles from manufacturers in view of their obligations to the Government, taken in conjunction with the shortage and high price of petrol, will have acted as a stimulant to the electric vehicle. This is all to. the good, and does not in any way threaten. the pros
perity of the petrol-vehicle industry. The proper sphere of the electric is fairly clearly defined. It is eminently suitable for town work where silent and smooth running is of high importance. It appeals to municipal authorities for these reasons and because it is a customer of the municipal electric supply stations the current for its batteries being taken at hours when the station load is light, and therefore costing very little. At present, the principal factor standing in the way of the development of the electric is high first cost. This disadvantage must be overcome, and we
040 ehall.then have an ideal substitute for the light horsed. vehicle used for retail deliveries in town. The electric rises nofuel while it is standing for deliveries to be effected. Its fuel costs are. in almost exactly direct proportion to the mileage it covers, and in this con• nection it offers attractions to the owner of the petrol vehicle, and will continue so to do until a. reliable starter beeoraes a standard fitting of the light van:
. Another factor which makes for rapid progress in the fields at present least exploited is the prOof afforded by the war of the immense possibilities of the, quite light pneumatic-tyred van. .Very many traders have adopted this typ.e under compulsion, but will retain it from choice. In connection with ambulance services, it has been proved that chassis not necessarily expensive in first, cost, may be made to give continuous and lengthy regular service under the 'worst possible conditions. Most of us have had tto revise our views .as to the limited suitability for commercial work of the private car chassis slightly modified in certain respects. For very light work the three-wheeled trade carrier and the motor-bicycle with . sidecar attachment have great possibilities. Altogether, then, we are in a position to fill without delay the demands of many sections of users who have hitherto adhered mainly to horse .traffic. We are justified, therefore, in assuming that the great rev.olution will, as soon as the War is over, proceed far more rapidly than ever before.
Better Value for Buyers' Money.
Later, we will endeavour to analyse the various factOrs, likely to affect the" first cost of commercial Vehicles. For-the moment, we can only say that. this analysis must lead' to the conclu4on that when peace returns buyers will get better value for their money than they ever had before.This will, of course, help to extend the markets, and altogether it would seem that, 'as regards the widespread use of commercial vehicles and their rapid adoption at the earliestrpossible opportunity, there ia every reason for adopts ing an optimistic attitude.: As to whether the de-' mand of the British Empire will be mainly filled, by. the products of the British industry is a more open'
Up to the present, practically the whole of the arguments, adduced have been about equally applicable. both to the home and to the °verse& markets. In resped, of the latter, there is at least one special point that deserves mention as bearing upon the probable' demand. This is the increasing realization of the fact that the railway is not the only or first means of developing a young country. Roads, as a rule, ate cheaper and quicker to construct, and the service upon them can be graduated .so as just to cope with the increasing requirements of trade. Finally, the time, of course, arrives when a railway becomes justifiable, but if the roads have been planned with intelligent anticipation of events, they will not then beeonie unnecessary, but will act as feeders to the railway systeM,-helping to develop much larger areas of country than would otherwise be tapped. In many of our more isolated Colonial possessions; the development of motor transport is in large measure dependent on the creation-of local supplies of fuel, This, as already pointed out, is not impossible. Altogether, then, there is every reason to anticipate in the sphere of goods-carrying motors an enlargement of the world'e markets at Feast proportionate to the enlargement in manufacturers' outputs that has taken place during the war, 'Weenust next consider the prospects in the 6ther spheres of -utility of the heavier and more utili
tarian types of motor vehicle. Veen& (To be continued.)