Automobile History Fun Facts

The history of the automated appeal begins in the late 1700s when engineers first began to experiment with motor powered vehicles. It is widely believed that the first automobile was a military tractor which was developed by Nicholas Joseph Cugnot, a Frenchman in 1769.

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At first it was unclear what would be used to power automobiles. Electricity, combustion and steam were all tried. Electric cars at first were the most popular. But, unlike the modern electric car the technology do not exist to create a battery which was able to produce the speed or power required for long distance driving.

By the early 20 century both the steam and the electric car had died out, replaced by the combustion engine. In 1885 Karl Benz developed the first automobile which had an internal combustion engine and was practical for everyday use.

The combustion engine took a further step forward in 1885 when Gottlieb Daimler patented what is considered to be the prototype of the modern gas engine. This engine was lighter weight, faster and a vertical cylinder and a gas injected carburetor.

Commercial production of cars in the United States began to increase at the start of the 20th century. In these early stages there was a marked difference between the way cars were produced in Europe and America. In the US cars were produced in automobile plants on an assembly line. In contrast, in Europe cars were produced by smaller independent businesses who created precisely engineered and handcrafted automobiles.

In order to capture the benefits of economies of scale US automobile companies merged and formed larger operations. At the turn of the 20th century there was approximately 2000 automobile firms in the United States, by 1920 the number had shrunk to just 44.

The most popular early vehicle in the United States was the Oldsmobile. This featured a 3 horse power engine and a curved dash. By 1904 5000 of these Oldsmobile’s were being produced. The real consumer boom came when Henry Ford produced the famous model T. This was a car designed for the average American owner. Ford would go on to sell 1 million of the model T by 1920.

The popularity of the court in the United States has moved in step with the economic times. There was a boom in production following World War I which was halted by the great depression. Following World War II economies in western Europe and the United States soared and so did demand for automobiles.

The postwar era saw a move to the pontoon style of car design. Now the bodywork of the automobile enclosed the front and the length of the car. 1948 was the year that the high compression V8 engine into the market for brands such as cattle at an General Motors.

During the 1950s vehicle speeds and the power of engines continued to rise. Luxury automobiles such as the Cadillac El Dorado into the market. In the 1960s Japanese car makers such as Toyota started to pose serious competition to US automakers. In response General Motors and Ford tried developing smaller cars but these were largely unsuccessful. Instead high-performance vehicles, such as the famous muscle cars, became the main way American [producers marketed vehicles in the 1960. This trend was halted by the 1973 oil crisis. More fuel efficient Japanese and European imports started to dominate the American car market.

The modern era of automobiles has seen fuel injection technology become ubiquitous. In addition diesel engines and all wheel drive cars are now highly popular. Car design has also changed significantly. During the 1980s and 1990s hatchbacks, sports utility vehicles and sedans began to dominate the market. Engine output and fuel efficiency has also risen markedly. The market has also switched from being dominated by the United States to moving towards Asia. Japanese companies continue to play an increasingly important role in the modern car market. By 2009 China became the world’s largest production producer of cars.

Coming full circle electric / hybrid vehicles are once again at the fore of the market. The hybrid electric Toyota Prius which entered the Japanese market in 1997 had sold more than 3 million vehicles by 2013. As technology improves for hybrid and electric cars they are becoming increasingly common sight on the road. It appears that the design of modern cars may be close to that of its early roots.

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