The automotive industry history began with the invention of a feasible internal combustion engine. In 1823, the first internal combustion machine was patented by Samuel Brown, a London-based engineer.
In 1885, Karl Benz, a German mechanical engineer, designed and developed the first practical car powered by a petrol or gasoline internal combustion engine. His three-wheeled Motor wagon first ran in 1885. This is also considered as the first production vehicle which was followed by several other copies.
In 1890, Rene Panbard and Emile Levastor, French machinery makers, built their first car with an engine designed by Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach. As French bicycle maker Armand Peugeot, took a license of the same engine and sold his first four lightweight cars in 1891. A year later, Karl Benz presented with his first four-wheeled car, designed by Wilhelm Maybach and Paul Daimler. The car is credited to be the first modern motorcar.
In the 1890s the French carmakers set the design of the modern auto by placing the engine over the front axle.
In the US, Charles and Frank Duryea built the first gasoline powered car in 1893. Ransom Olds is said to be the first mass producer of gasoline powered automobiles in the United States. It made 425 “Curved Dash Olds” in 1901. The European have always had a design superiority and nothing is a better example of this than the clear contrast between the first Mercedes motorcar and the Ransom Olds first 1 cylinder, 3 Hp, tiller-steered, curved-dash Oldsmobile. You could call it to be a mere motorized horse buggy.
What the American lacked in design, they compensated for it with their revolutionary mass producing techniques. In 1914, Henry Ford commenced to Mass Produce cars using assembly lines. Ford manufactured and sold Model A Cars in 1903. In 1908, Ford’s Model T became the first mass-produced automobile. Ford focused on affordability for their average customers. In its prime, ford developed the assembly process to such a level where it took only an hour and half to produce one car. By 1927, Ford became the only U.S. carmaker to Mass Produce over 15,000,000 Model T automobiles.
The first Japanese, gasoline powered car was made in 1907 by Komanosuke Uchiyama. However, it was Mitsubishi that commenced with mass production in 1914.
General Motors, in 1920s, changed the industry by emphasizing on car design. It improved Ford’s assembly line process and introduced flexibility into production system which enabled faster change overs from one car model to the next. The company developed new car models each year and they had come up with different lines of cars for customers in different income categories. Example, the Chevrolet for the average masses and the Cadillac for the rich.
By the 1930s all the inventions that we see in present date automobile had been invented. By 1930, the number of automobile manufactures reduced sharply because of The Great Depression.
Although, by 1925 the auto sales hiked to 3.7 million but took a steep fall in 1932 and during the World War II. The auto factories were then transformed into producing military vehicles and war materials. The manufacture of vehicles for civilians ceased during the period of 1942.
After the end of the world war, the sale of cars took off again reaching 6.7 million in 1950 and 9.3 million in 1965. Detroit’s Big Three carried out mass production on an insanely large-scale. Models and options available grew rapidly and it was in this period that more heavier, longer, expensive and gadget-decked became popular. The US dominated the Global car market with 83% of sales. Eventually, the European and the Japanese markets began to recover and the US market share suffered a great set back. Its market share slipped down to 26% by 1960. In this period of 1990s, America saw it’s market share been eaten up by imports, majority from Japan.
After Ford stopped it’s Model T in 1927, it took almost half a century for another production archetype to emerge as the conventional in the automotive industry. In 1953, Toyota began with its lean production system, replacing the “push” system with the “pull” system. Traditionally, in the “push” system, automakers produced mass quantities of cars and pushed them to the dealerships to sell to the customers or to hold as stock. In Toyota’s “pull” system, the carmaker pulled vehicles from the production process according to the immediate demand. This minimized inventories at suppliers, dealers and assemblers. This lean production system drove productivity to new heights.
In the early 1980s, German and Japanese companies set up plants in the United States. By 1999 these could produce about 3 million vehicles per year. From then the domestic production by American companies has declined. The credit crisis began in 2008 and many automakers faced significant losses in the recession. The US auto industry took a double hit from 2007 to 2008 as customers demanded more energy-efficient greener cars as gasoline prices took a hike. In 2008 the US automakers took the financial help of the government. As a result, the American government forced General Motors and Chrysler to declare bankruptcy in 2009. The governments of America, Canada and the United Auto Workers and Italy’s Fiat owned most of the newly formed companies.
Regulations related to vehicle safety, emission levels, fuel economy, vehicle imports, and consumer protection lead to the passage of government rules from 1970s. This compelled the automakers to improve on the fuel efficiency and safety grounds.
In the 21st century automakers we are able to see a tremendous change in the market with people opting for electric vehicles while some are not only smart but also loaded with autonomous driving features. With new companies like Tesla into the game the competition has got very much fierce. The industry is changing rapidly with electric vehicles coming into play the battery market is now became a very big part of the modern Automotive.
What is next that time will tell but until then what can be told is that IC Engines and Electric will be the two technologies that will dominate for now.