History

automotive industry | History, Developments, & Facts

Although steam-powered road vehicles were produced earlier, the origins of the automotive industry are rooted in the development of the gasoline engine in the 1860s and ’70s, principally in France and Germany. By the beginning of the 20th century, German and French manufacturers had been joined by British, Italian, and American makers.

Developments before World War I

Most early automobile companies were small shops, hundreds of which each produced a few handmade cars, and nearly all of which abandoned the business soon after going into it. The handful that survived into the era of large-scale production had certain characteristics in common. First, they fell into one of three well-defined categories: they were makers of bicycles, such as Opel in Germany and Morris in Great Britain; builders of horse-drawn vehicles, such as Durant and Studebaker in the United States; or, most frequently, machinery manufacturers. The kinds of machinery included stationary gas

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bicycle | Definition, History, Types, & Facts

Bicycle predecessors

Historians disagree about the invention of the bicycle, and many dates are challenged. It is most likely that no individual qualifies as the inventor and that the bicycle evolved through the efforts of many. Although Leonardo da Vinci was credited with having sketched a bicycle in 1492 in his Codex Atlanticus, the drawing was discovered to be a forgery added in the 1960s. Another presumed bicycle ancestor, the vélocifère, or célérifère, of the 1790s was a fast horse-drawn coach that is not considered to be a predecessor of the bicycle.


Draisiennes, hobby-horses, and other velocipedes

The first two-wheeled rider-propelled machine for which there is indisputable evidence was the draisienne, invented by Baron Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun of Germany. In 1817 he rode it for 14 km (9 miles), and the following year he exhibited it in Paris. Although von Drais called his device

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Automobile History – HISTORY

Contents

  1. When Were Cars Invented?
  2. Henry Ford and William Durant
  3. Model T
  4. Automotive Industry Growing Pains
  5. Car Sales Stall
  6. GM Introduces ‘Planned Obsolescence’
  7. World War II and the Auto Industry
  8. Rise of Japanese Automakers
  9. U.S. Carmakers Retool
  10. Legacy of the U.S. Auto Industry

The automobile was first invented and perfected in Germany and France in the late 1800s, though Americans quickly came to dominate the automotive industry in the first half of the twentieth century. Henry Ford innovated mass-production techniques that became standard, and Ford, General Motors and Chrysler emerged as the “Big Three” auto companies by the 1920s. Manufacturers funneled their resources to the military during World War II, and afterward automobile production in Europe and Japan soared to meet growing demand. Once vital to the expansion of American urban centers, the industry had become a shared global enterprise with the rise of Japan as the leading automaker by

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