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The Evolution of the Auto Industry

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

The Evolution of the Auto Industry

Steven Cancel
June 29, 2007

Of course the idea of an automobile can be dated all the way back to when the wheel was first invented; however, I am going to place you back to when major progress was made to the auto industry. The first automobile was built in France by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot in 1769. Not long after came the first automobile patent in the United States which was granted to Oliver Evans in 1789. Evan produced his first self-propelled automobile in 1805. Although self-propelled, this vehicle wasn't anything like how our vehicles work today. Finally, in 1870 an inventor by the name of Seigfried Marcus put an internal liquid fuel engine in a horse carriage which made him the first man to propel a vehicle by means of gasoline. As were finding out today this may have been our biggest mistake as a civilization due to global warming concerns. However, when directly eyeing the auto industry, this was necessary to jump start the idea that has effects each and every one of us everyday.

Karl Benz built his first automobile in 1885, was granted a patent in 1886, and began producing automobiles in 1888. Notice the last names if you are not familiar with the history of the auto industry. In 1889 Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach designed a vehicle from scratch rather than using a horse carriage fitted with an engine. By the 1900s, mass production on vehicles was under way in France and the United States. The first company formed to exclusively build cars was Panhard et Levassor in France. Next came the United States auto industry startup called Duryea Motor Wagon Company founded by brothers Charles and Frank Duryea.

Oldsmobile had a production line up and running in 1902 and would dominate this era of automobile production. By 1903, Cadillac, Winston and Ford were all producing cars in the thousands. A few years later in 1908 the Ford Model T was introduced and became the most widely produced and available car of the era. In 1910 the Mercer Raceabout debuted as the world's first sports car. Slightly over a decade later the Austin debuted and was the most widely copied vehicle ever and served as a template for cars around the world. Later in 1934 the Citroen Traction Avant was the first mass produced vehicle with front wheel drive. Finally, Oldsmobile introduced the first automatic transmission in 1940 and no longer than 10 years all automobile manufactures were offering the same technology. 1950 and 60's was when the auto industry had the ability to really focus on the wants rather than the needs of consumers. The classics we love to see are in prototypes. 1962 hits and the first super car was introduced as the Ferrari 250 GTO. 1964 sets a mark and Ford releases the Mustang that became the best selling and most collected car of its era. In 1977 Honda introduced the Accord and it went on to become the most popular car of 1990s. A huge win for Chrysler, their 1983 release of the minivans were introduced and pushed station wagons out of the market. Many of these vehicles lasted decades and many can still be found today. More recently, Toyota has recently surpassed General Motors in leading worldwide auto sales and now holds the number one selling brand in the world.

As for the future of vehicles, manufactures are moving towards hybrid and hydrogen automobiles. Hybrid automobiles use a mix of technologies such as combustion engines, electric motors, gasoline, and batteries. Normally, the vehicles run on batteries that are found in a pack in the vehicle, and once the battery is dead the gasoline kicks in. Hydrogen automobiles generally use the hydrogen in one of two methods; combustion or fuel-cell conversion. Hydrogen can be obtained through various methods utilizing natural gas or coal. One can almost say history repeats itself, simply with a different goal. As noted at the beginning of this article, a gasoline powered engine was a major jump start to the auto industry. Now we have most everything else we can want and need, and the main focus is finding the best way to power the vehicle again that can both be environmentally safe and cost effective. This is because fossil fuels have been the number one proven cause of global warming, the supply is inevitably going to diminish, and the price is definitely not going down.

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This article was written for our friends at Premier Dash - http://www.premierdash.com . Article written and distributed by Steve Cancel, IT Manager of Michigan Web Site Hosting.



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