Cars are the most commonly used mode of transportation in many countries. Most Americans own cars and cannot imagine life without them. Indeed, many people rely on their cars to do everything from go to work to take a trip to the shopping center. Although cars are now a daily part of life for the majority of Americans (and people across the globe), this was not always the case. In fact, prior to the 1930s, only the very wealthy could afford cars!
Although cars have now become a staple of society that can be afforded even by the poor, there are many facts about cars and their history that many people do not know. Below are a few facts about cars.
• The first steam-powered vehicle was designed by a Flemish member of a Jesuit mission in China named Ferdinand Verbiest. This steam-powered vehicle was 65 centimeters long and was created as a toy for the Chinese Emperor, meaning that it was too small to actually carry a driver or a passenger.
• Frenchman Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot is credited with building the first automobile in 1769. His invention was a steam-powered tricycle.
• In 1801 Englishman Richard Trevithick built the “Puffing Devil,” a road locomotive that is now believed to have been the first demonstration of a steam-powered road vehicle. Unfortunately, it was unable to maintain adequate steam pressure and served little practical use.
• In 1807 a Swiss inventor named Francois Issac de Rivaz designed an “internal combustion engine” and used it to power a vehicle. Although this design had trouble running and was not widely successful it was groundbreaking in gaining interest in the possibilities of automobiles.
• It took many decades to perfect the art of automobiles. It wasn’t until 1881 that a French inventor named Gustave Trouve demonstrated a working three-wheeled automobile powered by electricity at the Paris-based International Exposition of Electricity.
• In 1885, the three wheeled automobile “Benz Patent-Motorwagen” was awarded a patent for concept. Until this day “Benz” is one of the biggest names in the field of cars, especially luxury cars.
• By the 1890s, cars were being produced and sold to wealthy families.
• The large scale manufacturing of affordable automobiles was started by Ransom Olds in 1902. Thus, the Oldsmobile factory in Michigan became one of the faster growing job markets, filled with assembly line workers that could produce cars quickly and relatively cheaply.
• In 1914, American businessman Henry Ford greatly expanded the assembly line production. His company could create cars so quickly that one came off the line every fifteen minutes. Due to this promptness, cars quickly became more affordable to middle class people and therefore more popular in overall society.
• The first cars only came in the color black. Other colors slowly started being introduced in the 1920s and 1930s.
• In America during the 1950s, cars became so commonplace that many businesses expanded their offerings to serve people in cars. Drive in movie theaters and drive-thru windows at restaurants are examples of how society adjusted to the increase in cars.
• As of 2014, most American households own two cars. In nearly all first-world countries cars are the most popular mode of transportation.
• Although cars do wonders for transport, there are some concerns regarding pollution stemming from their use of fuel. Hence, developers are now trying to find ways to run cars via electricity. Furthermore, it is possible that by the 2020s many cars will be able to park—and even drive—themselves!