Automotive Industry – The Fascinating History

It is always fascinating to take a look at the creation of products that we rely on so unconsciously in our daily lives. None is more exciting than the history of the automotive industry. History credits a French engineer by the name of Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot for building the first automobile in 1769. This vehicle was more like a military tractor with three wheels than what we know of as a car. The engine ran on steam and could only run for fifteen minutes at a time. The steam engine evolved as various inventors were able to obtain patents and in 1806 the trend started with cars operating with internal combustion engines which ran on gasoline.

The history of the automotive industry truly came of age in 1903 when Henry Ford started an automobile empire in a converted factory. His company became one of the few to survive the Great Depression. In 1914 Ford started producing cars in bulk by creating what we know as assembly lines. This was the point where the automobile began its popularity. The U.S. dominated the industry around the world until the end of World War II in 1945. At that time nations that were technologically advanced such as Germany and Japan were able to gain momentum and become serious competition within the automobile industry.

The success seen in the history of the automotive industry is due to three basic factors; price, quality and depreciation. Cars have always continued to get more expensive. A car such as a Cadillac Seville, as an example, retailed for around $20,000 in 1989. That same car in a model produced just five years later retailed at $36,000. The quality of cars continues to evolve as well. They are truly built to last. The depreciation of new cars continues to remain consistent. You can expect a car to lose about 28% of its value the moment it is driven off the dealership lot.

The history of the automotive industry would not be complete without a look into the future. With the trend of manufacturers to produce “green” vehicles we are seeing a surge of hybrid and hydrogen cars with many new and innovative ideas waiting for production. The goal is to produce a vehicle that is environmentally safe while still cost effective and affordable. Cars that we only dream about today are destined to become a reality tomorrow.

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