The History of Automobiles


Automobiles were invented as a means of mass transportation. In the mid-19th century, the gasoline-powered automobile quickly won a major competition, taking over the streets of the United States and Europe. Henry Ford made the automobile possible through his innovations, including assembly lines. This allowed him to reduce the price of his Model T and make it affordable to middle-class families. Today, the average American drives more than 4 trillion kilometers (2.5 trillion miles) a year.

Ford’s mass production techniques

Henry Ford sought to improve the productivity of his factories for decades. In the early days, workers assembled Model N cars by standing on the floor, placing individual parts in a row, and dragging them down the assembly line. He eventually broke down the assembly process into 84 discrete steps, training each worker to perform one step at a time. He also employed motion-study expert Frederick Taylor and developed automatic stamping machines to speed up the assembly process and reduce labor costs.

Chrysler’s mass production techniques

The development of automobiles is a vital part of Chrysler’s mass production techniques. In the 1930s, Chrysler incorporated a process known as simultaneous engineering, which is now called product lifecycle management (PLM). In these models, teams of engineers worked together to create one model, from concept to production. As an early adopter of this process, Chrysler became one of the world’s lowest-cost producers.

Daimler-Mercedes’ inventions

Daimler-Mercedes’ invention of the internal-combustion engine was a major breakthrough for automobiles. Benz and his partner Carl Benz developed the idea of reducing the size of a car engine and increasing its output. They also tested and patented their inventions.

Benz’s inventions

In the 1880s, Karl Benz created the first commercial automobile, the Motorwagen. This three-wheeled vehicle was steered from the front, and had seats for passengers in the rear. He also invented the carburetor and the electrical ignition system. In addition, he patented the concept of horizontally opposed pistons. These inventions changed the face of the automobile for the better.

Benz’s car

Known as the motorwagen, Karl Benz’s car was the world’s first practical car. It was powered by an internal-combustion engine and weighed approximately two hundred and twenty pounds. Benz patented his invention on January 29, 1886. The motorwagen had three wheels and was smaller at the front than the rear to improve traction on hilly terrain. Benz’s car went into commercial production in 1887 and was sold in Germany and France.

Chrysler’s body-on-frame construction

Sergio Marchionne, the new CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, recently hinted that the next Jeep Wrangler will be a unibody. That would require a large investment in new equipment. In addition, Chrysler currently only has two body-on-frame assembly plants in the United States, and neither of them is equipped to stamp aluminum body panels. Regardless, Jeep enthusiasts are hoping the next Wrangler will stay body-on-frame, because it offers strength, rigidity, and durability against the elements.

Ford’s variable valve timing system

Variable valve timing is an engine technology that helps cars and trucks run smoother and get better fuel economy. It also improves low-end power and torque and improves drivability. It is controlled by a computer onboard the vehicle that monitors engine RPM, throttle position, and other factors. It can be programmed to shift to a different camshaft profile based on these factors.

Daimler-Mercedes’ car

In the recent Daimler Emissions Scandal, the carmaker allegedly cheated emissions tests to sell 250,000 cars that otherwise would have failed. Daimler did this by installing cheating software in diesel vehicles. It also sold cars that otherwise would not have passed inspections, and paid $1.5 billion to government authorities and $700 million to car owners.

Model T

The Ford Motor Company first produced the Model T in 1908. By the early 20th century, the Model T was the best-selling vehicle in the world. The car was affordable and widely available, reflecting Ford’s adoption of the moving assembly line and mass production techniques. These innovations would shape American manufacturing for the rest of the twentieth century. But the Model T had a short lifespan: production stopped in 1927, and by the time the Model T came off the assembly line, more than 15 million of them had been produced.


In the first half of 2004, auto imports increased to US$2.98 billion, up 20.8 percent from the same period in 2003. Most of the increase in automobile imports was attributed to the introduction of several new Indian automobiles into the American market.