06-16-2016

Who Invented The Automobile?

Many people mistakenly think that Henry Ford invented the first auto. Most people accept the gasoline powered vehicle with an internal combustion engine as an automobile; however, there were self-propelled steam and electric cars way before the gasoline engine powered car was invented. Nicholas Cugnot built a steam self-propelled vehicle in 1769, a long time before the gasoline powered car. Later, Karl Benz that invented a 3-wheeled car with an internal combustion engine fueled by gasoline in 1885 and patented in 1886.

A more contemporary vehicle was created by Gottlieb Daimler who engineered the first car with four wheels. In 1885, Gottlieb Daimler and Karlz Benz, two men from Germany, created a tricycle and a bicycle with motorized components. In 1886, Wilhelm Mayback and Gottlieb Daimler created a carriage that did not require horses for movement; the carriage sported four wheels. .

At the time, most people were riding horses or traveling in horse drawn carriages. Even with the popularity of trains at this time; there was still a great need for a self-propelled vehicle. In Europe by 1900, automobiles were already in mass production such as the 1893 Benz Velo. Later, in the year 1923, both Mayback and Daimler worked in unison to engineer the first Mercedes-Benz, a name that still remains synonymous with luxury automobiles

The Genius of Henry Ford

Even today, people mistakenly think that Henry Ford invented the first auto, and this might be because he became famous for the introduction of the automobile to many people in the US.

Ford, who was born in Michigan, lived in Detroit where he had a job in a machine shop, which was the perfect place for his innovation. At Westinghouse Engine Company in 1896, 11 years after the first auto was patented in Germany, Henry Ford built an automobile and sold it to finance a better version. While Ford will be remembered for many things, the Model T will always be one of the most important. When it was released to the public, the price was $950. At this price it was a luxury item that only the rich could afford. After 19 years of production, however, the price when down to $280 in some places. Ford had once said, "I will build a car for the great multitude", and with the Model T, he did just that. He brought the price down so the average man could afford it by creating assembly lines for mass production. By 1927, over fifteen million of his Model T cars had been sold, and there was a Ford dealership in almost every major city or town in the US. Later,

It is important to note that while Henry Ford didn't specifically invent the automobile and all of the technologies required, he did invent many of the things that made auto manufacturing possible. Henry Ford pioneered mass manufacturing and these ideas were soon copied by others and used in other industries. Henry Ford introduced the conveyer belt for his assembly line, which further reduced the costs of manufacturing. Henry Ford even paved the way for roads to be built across the US. The car industry became a big part of the US economy, and manufacturers, car dealers, and buyers all had a part. The car industry is also widely credited for creating a middle-class within the US.

French Automotive Innovation

In the early 1900s, France and the United States were the leaders in the mass production of the automobile. In France, the first cars were being produced and sold to the public. In the mid 1880s, the Benz Velo was one of the first car models to be mass produced where every car was made exactly the same way.

The era before 1905 was known as the Veteran Era, and in the US the Duryea Brothers founded their company to become the first auto manufacturer. Soon after, the company that was later to be known as Oldsmobile would take the lead in auto production. Just a year after Olds was started, Cadillac was producing thousands of cars as well. 

In the year 1908, General Motors was established by William Durant. This company later became the head company of the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Pontiac, and Buick, and it is an automotive company that remained a leading carmaker in the US during the twentieth century.

After the Veteran Era came the Brass Era, and many of these car innovations remain in use today. Next, was the Vintage Era where the US saw the end of WWI and the depression which caused the stock market crash. Cars were mainly sold to the wealthy during this time. Then came the Pre WWII Era that started with the depression and ended with the end of the war. Fenders, trunks, and closed bodies were popular and took hold at this time, followed by the Post War and Modern Eras.

In 1949, the VW Beetle was imported into the US; this later led to a trend and desire for economy vehicles. By the early 1990s, over 21 million Volkswagen Beetles were manufactured, topping the Ford Model T sales of 15 million. In the early 1960s, Ford introduced the Mustang: the first coupe with a two-door body construction.

Cars Hit The Mainstream Media

Cars now are part of pop culture. Many of us have a dream car, usually one from a TV show, movie, or MTV video we saw. Many of these cars are from the Modern Era and are known as Muscle Cars and/or gas-guzzlers. One of these is the 1967 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 fastback, featured in the Gone in 60 Seconds [2000] film. Another might be the Night Rider car, the 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. How about the Back to the Future 1981 DeLorean DMC 12? DeLorean went bankrupt in 1982 just a year later.

In the midst of a deep recession in the US in 2009, both Chrysler and General Motors ended up filing for bankruptcy protection. Ford remained a leader in the industry, but GM and Chrysler had to close a number of their plants and lay off workers. The two companies were hit with a combination of factors including, but not limited to: a rise in oil costs, a struggling economy and recession onset, and the encroachment of European and Japanese automakers in the automotive market. In the same year, Ford, foreseeing potential financial issues, prepared itself by getting a line of credit that was later used to make it through the financial turmoil of this time.

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