How has automotive technology evolved over the years?
The evolution of automotive technology has come a long way since the first gas engine car was invented in 1886. Before that, the only cars that existed were powered by steam, which was a cumbersome, noisy and inefficient option for the earliest automobiles. Given that this was really not much more than a century ago, it’s incredible to think how far the auto industry has come with the slick and efficient models of today.
The first car
It was Karl Benz who created that very first car back in 1886. However, this early model bore only a slight resemblance to the vehicles we use today. It produced 0.75 horsepower, had just three wheels and looked a lot like a long tricycle. Between the 1880s and the 1920s, cars began to change but had very few of the features that most of us consider to be essential to the modern driving experience. For example, these early models were without windscreens or turning signals and most didn’t even have a round steering wheel.
In 1906 automotive technology experienced its first big milestone when Ford Motors released its Model T. After that, thanks to the invention of the assembly line, cars began to emerge that bore a much stronger resemblance to the modern model. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler started to work on evolving automotive technology at a blistering pace and by the 1920s were making cars that could reach up to 35 horsepower, producing speeds of up to 20 miles per hour.
Changes and developments in the car industry
Although the car industry continued to change and develop, a century ago car engines could still only ignite from one fuel: gasoline. It wasn’t until the mid 1930s that Mercedes Benz changed the landscape of fuel by introducing the ‘Mercedes-Benz 260 D,’ which ran on diesel. A century later concerns about the impact of these fuels would lead to another huge rethink of automotive technology with the development of hybrid and electric vehicles. With this new technology, drivers today can refuel on electricity, as opposed to diesel or gasoline, which should eventually be both more cost effective for consumers and better for the environment too.
As the years went on, improvements in auto technology have created cars that can go much faster. From those initial models that could reach speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, today the top speeds achieved by street-legal production cars are almost 300 miles per hour. The way we drive changed too, perhaps most significantly with the introduction of the first automatic transmission based vehicle in the 1940s. The 1950s saw the driving experience improve thanks to power steering and cruise control. Since then, advances have come thick and fast, from the introduction of GPS through to high level security systems and electric windows and air conditioning.
Automotive technology has gone through many different evolutions over the years. As cars continue to get smarter, faster and more environmentally friendly, there seems to be no limit to what auto innovation can achieve.
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