The Cleveland electric car was made to the design of Elmer A Sperry who completed his first electric car in October 1898 and in the summer of 1899 contracted the Cleveland Machine Screw Company to build production versions. The steering tiller could be raised or lowered to control the car's speed and brakes and most American makers of electric cars adopted this control system. Another feature of the cars was the laterally inclined kingpins – the beneficial effects this had on steering not becoming common practice until well after the Great War. A Cleveland won a gold medal at the 1900 Paris Exposition and some 100 cars were exported to Europe.
In January 1901 the Cleveland company sold its stock together with the patents for the cars to the American Bicycle Company and many of Sperry's innovations reappeared in the Waverley electric car. Cleveland subsequently made petrol-powered cars from 1902 to 1904.
Elmer Sperry went on to develop the gyroscopic compass that took his name. He died aged 70 in 1930.