Automobile History

The automobile history dates back to the late 18th century. Nicolas Joseph Cugnot, a French engineer is credited with inventing the first self-propelled automobile.

Cugnot's vehicle used steam power for locomotion. The vehicle found military application in the French army. Cugnot's automobile was never commercially sold.

In the beginning automobile industry was dominated by steam-powered vehicles. The vehicles were expensive and difficult to maintain. The incidence of frequent boiler explosions also kept potential purchasers away. Commercial history of automobiles started with the invention of gasoline powered internal combustion engines. The German inventor, Karl Benz constructed his first gasoline powered vehicle in 1885 at Mannheim, Germany. Commercial production of Benz cars started in 1888. Panhard et Levassor of France was the first company to exclusively build and sell motor cars from 1889.

The early 1900s saw many automobile manufacturing companies coming into existence in a number of European countries and the United States. The first mass produced automobile in the United States was the curved-dash Oldsmobile. It was a three-horsepower machine and sold 5,000 units by 1904. The economics of the US car market was disrupted by the arrival of Henry Ford and his Model T car. The Model T was the world's first mass produced vehicle- a million units were sold by 1920- a space of 10 years.

Mass production of cars led to cheaper vehicles. This made cars more affordable to the common American and European citizen. The British automobile manufacturing history was revolutionized by assembly line production methods employed by two separate car makers- William Morris and Herbert Austin. Austin Seven was the world's first compact car. The Morris manufactured vehicles had engine mounted on front.

The 1960s saw rapid developments in automobile manufacturing technology. A milestone in the history of automobiles was achieved by the invention of efficient fuel injection processes, independent suspensions and turbochargers. Pontiac Trans Am was the best selling car from 1969 to 1980. Computer Aided Design (CAD) was introduced for designing vehicles from the 1980s. Ford Taurus was the first vehicle to be built using CAD.

Last Updated on 1/3/2012