Over the past two centuries, there have been over 100,000 patents granted worldwide in the automotive industry.

The earliest mobile vehicle was recorded in France in 1769, when Nicholas Joseph Cugnot an engineer and mechanic, developed a steam engine that powered a military tractor. However, this limited invention only moved at 2.5 mph and had to stop several times to allow steam to build up for the vehicle to continue moving. Primarily, its main use was to move artillery, but just over a year later, Mr Cugnot designed another three-wheeled mobile vehicle that carried up to four passengers.

In the early 1800s, before gasoline engines were created, vehicles were typically powered by electricity. While it is uncertain who exactly invented the electric vehicle, several inventors have been given credit.

One of these individuals was Anyos Jedlik, a Hungarian, who invented a small model car that ran on a battery. Thomas Davenport, a blacksmith from Vermont also received recognition for creating the first DC electric motor; which was the first of its kind in the United States.

In 1865, Gaston Plante, a Frenchman was credited for inventing the first battery that held an extended charge. Then, later in 1881, Camille Faure was able to develop on the idea by creating an even longer lasting battery; which proven to be a crucial development for the success of electric vehicles.

Karl Benz received the original patent for a gasoline-fuelled vehicle, with three wheels in 1866; his first four-wheel vehicle wasn’t developed until 1891. By 1900, Benz & Co. had become the largest automobile company in the world and Mr Benz was the first inventor to combine an internal combustible engine with a chassis.

Meanwhile, in America, inventors were coming up with their own ideas for vehicles while using existing engine technologies from their European counterparts. Two bicycle making brothers, Charles and Frank Duryea started the first gasoline-powered vehicle company in 1893 and just three years later the Duryea Motor Wagon Company had manufactured and sold 13 models of its Duryea.

Henry Ford’s Michigan based Ford Motor Company revolutionised the mass production of assembling cars when the modern assembly line was introduced in 1913 and consequently, 15 million Model T cars had been manufactured by 1927.

The earlier inventors of the vehicle most likely never dreamed that their inventions would evolve into such highly sophisticated machines used all over the world that includes modern luxuries and technologies. In the next century, it will be exciting to see what technological concepts will be applied to the automobiles industry in the future.


Andrew Mackenzie

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