We frequently take for granted the fact that we drive from A to B every day. How would we cope without cars or alternative forms of transportation? People fared well enough without automobiles in the past, of course, but such has been their development over time that they have gained a role in our day-to-day lives.
The history of the car actually dates from as far back as 1769, when it became possible to transport humans in steam-powered automobiles. 1806 saw the appearance of fuel gas and the first cars to be powered by internal combustion engines, but it took until 1885 for modern petrol or gasoline fuelled internal combustion engines to be introduced.
It might surprise you to hear that cars with electric power actually made their first appearance in around 1900, but disappeared until now, when they have undergone a restructuring so that they can meet interest in zero or low emission transport solutions. Attempts were made for the first time in 1838, when an electric locomotive that proved capable of a speed of 4mph was built by Scotland’s Robert Davidson.
The first attempts at making cars powered by internal combustion engines are said to have been hampered by insufficient suitable fuels, meaning that gas mixtures were used by the earliest engines. An internal combustion engine running on a mixture of oxygen and hydrogen, for example, was built by Swiss engineer François Isaac de Rivaz in 1806.
Particular progress was made in Britain in 1895 when one of the first four-wheeled automobiles to run on petrol appeared; the model was made in Birmingham by Frederick William Lanchester, who went on to patent the disc brake as well as the first electric starter. A national automotive industry had emerged in many countries within five years, but there were not yet any clear standards for vehicle controls or architectures.
A boom subsequently took place in the growth of the car industry, with many smaller firms taking on the challenge. The era’s most widely produced and available car, the Ford Model T, entered production in 1908. Cars no longer had to be a mere novelty, but this was no indication that they were universally affordable either.
Various car designs have come and gone since then, with an attendant significant increase in their functionality. We invest in car insurance for our own protection, and are also assisted by satellite navigation systems, which some vehicles have built into them. Our cars come with temperature control, cup holders, electric windows and hi-tech stereo systems that are capable of incorporating our MP3 players and iPods. There has been a true advance in technology in the short period in which cars have existed, so who knows what future cars could offer?