Tom Junior started working on the "Ecometer" in 1915, as a carburetor attachment to improve gas mileage. In January of that year Tom wrote to Henry Ford saying that "I am striving hard to perfect a 'device' which I hope might prove of mutual benefit to us both. Therefore at all times I have your interest at heart. .. I am truly handicapped for material, I have absolutely nothing to work with." He went on to beg Ford for "small copper and brass tubing - connections - fittings - valves and etc - also ignition coils - scrap brass would indeed prove a valuable asset." Somehow or other, by 1921 he had actually produced the device, and sent a sample to Henry Ford for evaluation. Extensive tests were carried out in May, with poor results. Tom was defensive. "It appears to be quite out of the question to get anyone to test out the device according to instructions. I have tried very hard to make these instructions very plain -- but either they do not know the principle envolved [sic] or it is simple neglect. ... if the test was conducted and instructions followed out very closely I feel very confident that very different result would have been shown."

Junior did not restrict his automotive ambitions to improved gas mileage; according to an article in the NY Times, "Every automobile will be carrying its own still by 1935, according to Thomas A. Edison Jr. These stills ... [will be] for the purpose of distilling the new substitute for gasoline that Mr. Edison the younger ir rather confident he will discover within the next ten or fifteen years."