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Automotive Industry Evolution Report

In the past, traveling from one town to the next is a very difficult undertaking. There was no mode of transportation that is reliable, safe, and efficient. The reliance on horses and horse-drawn carriages made travel an unpleasant experience. But everything changed when man invented the automobile. After decades of research, design, and experimentation, the modern car changed the lives of every person on the planet. This could not have been possible without the contribution of inventors, engineers, and even businessmen who made it possible for the average person to own the car.


It was in 1769 when the first prototype of the automobile was invented by a man named Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot (Sinclair, 2004, p.10). It can be considered as the first automobile because it has a mechanism to move a vehicle of some sort, that is able to carry at least one passenger – the driver. It was a simple design with three wheels and powered by a steam engine (Sinclair, 2004, p.10). But it was not very efficient and can only travel for a short distance.

A few decades later, engineers were able to introduce major changes, and instead of using steam engines, they used electric power to move the vehicle. But the power cannot be sustained for long periods, and therefore it was considered unsuitable for long-distance travel. However, in the 1870s, there were two German engineers who developed an innovative way to power the automobile. Engineers Augusto Otto and Gottlieb Daimler created the first reliable internal combustion engine powered by gasoline, and it was aptly called the “Otto cycle engine” (Sinclair, 2004, p.12). This was the beginning of a scientific revolution in the area of transportation.

Innovation and Changes

The problem with the internal combustion engine was the lack of power. Rudolf Diesel provided a major part of the solution when he developed an innovation that the world would come to know as the diesel engine. But because of the design and because of the high weight-to-power ratio, it was limited to rail transportation, heavy trucks, and buses (Flink, 1990, p.12). There is no need to elaborate that only a few people can buy and maintain such large-sized vehicles.

The rapid transformation of the automobile industry came when Carl Benz entered the scene. It was Carl Benz who, in 1893, completed the development of a four-wheel car (Flink, 1990, p.12). Benz also introduced electric ignition, and this brilliant innovation prompted many to copy his designs (Flink, 1990, p.13). However, it was not until Henry Ford developed his Model T that made it possible for ordinary people to experience the joy of owning a car.


Scientists and inventors belonging to the automotive world focused their energies on developing the car that can become a commercial success. They wanted to solve a problem, but at the same time, they are indebted to investors and other stakeholders who provided the funding to make money. It is therefore not an accident that the best in this business were the people who were able to combine their love for designing and manufacturing cars and the need to make their cars marketable. The mention of names like Daimler, Benz, Peugeot, and Ferrari immediately brings up the idea that business and engineering must intersect in order to manufacture and sell an automobile. In this regard, there are only a few that can equal the status of Henry Ford.

Henry Ford did not only possess the curious and scientific mind of a scientist and inventor, but he also has the uncanny ability to understand how the world of commerce works. As a result, Ford was one of the first to develop a system that can produce high-quality and affordable cars. He experimented with car design, materials used in the manufacturing process as well as conceptualizing a radical factory design that emphasizes speed and efficiency (York, 2010, p. 38). The testament to the success of the Model T was the fact that the lives of farmers living in isolated areas changed for the better after the purchase of their first Model T. This was captured in the following report:

The Model T made what had been a half-day or all-day trip to town by horse and wagon into a quick ride of an hour or two. Having a Model T helped farm families feel less isolated. At times, the automobile even helped with work on the farm. Ford loved to show how to pop a wheel off the Model T, attach a belt to its axle, and power farm machines with it in place of a generator (York, 2010, p.40).

The Age of the Automobile has finally arrived. Aside from Ford’s brilliant assembly line manufacturing process, there is another explanation as to why he was able to hold more cars as compared to his competitors. Ford knew how to market his cars. He knew that his cars were not exactly cheap. The cars, however, were less expensive than others. As a part of the marketing scheme, when the first Model T car rolled out in 1908, the Model T was priced at $850, and the company released an advertisement that says, “No car under $2000 offers more” (York, 2010, p.39). This was a brilliant advertising campaign because the general public immediately understood that the best cars could cost as much as $2000, but at less than half the price, a buyer can own a reliable car and enjoy its benefits.

It did not take long before the Model T became a smashing success. The advertisement was really effective. But soon thereafter, buyers had become more sophisticated, and as a result, auto manufacturers had to develop more effective advertisements, especially in an industry crowded with competition.

An advertisement from the Chrysler Company.
Fig. 1. An advertisement from the Chrysler Company.

In this advertisement, one can see how Chrysler attempted to capture three types of consumers: those who wanted an economical car; those who do not want to buy an expensive car but wanted the best alternative; and those that have the money to buy a luxurious car that can be compared to imported models. By carefully studying the needs of the customers and then presenting them with different choices, this add was geared to increase revenue (Scharff, 1999, p.51). The Chrysler Company had to offer something that is well within their budget. Yet, at the same time, the company tried to entice buyers to purchase the more expensive and stylish models.

Over the years, the manufacturing industry has hired consultants to understand what the market is looking for. In the 21st century, it is not uncommon to find auto manufacturing facilities that housed the following: Human Factor Studio; Comfort Lab; and Wave Lab (Hutt & Speh, 2010, p.64). These are methods used to understand the target market and provide insights that could help develop products that can make the company profitable. The purpose is to anticipate the needs of the consumers and then develop a car that can provide the best comfort using the best technology at a competitive price.

Marketing was a major key to success and not just mechanical aspect of the car. Marketing is a deliberate process of observing the needs and doing something to address that need. Marketing is also important because it informs the people what is available. If no one knows how to market a product, then it simply stays on the factory floor or the showroom, and no one gets to appreciate its beauty and utility.


The automotive industry started from humble beginnings. Today it is a multi-billion dollar industry that creates a link from Japan to Africa. This is how the automobile has changed the way people live. The challenges of building an efficient and safe automobile have been conquered, even as scientists and innovators continue to study the process to enhance the product. The automotive industry has grown significantly through the decades since Henry Ford rolled out the first batch of Model T vehicles. As of the moment, there is no sign of slowing down. People kept making advertisements because they knew that this is the only way to communicate to a broader audience. The automotive industry has experienced some ups and downs, but it will not disappear as long as people need cars.


Flink, J. (1990). The automotive Age. MA: Massachusets Institute of Technology Press.

Hutt, M. & Speh, T. (2007). Business Marketing. OH: Southwestern-Cengage Learning.

Scharff, Virginia. (1999). Taking the Wheel. New York: The Free Press.

Sinclair, J. (2004). The Automobile. MN: Capstone press.

York, M.J. (2010). Henry Ford: Manufacturing Mogul. MN: ABDO Publishing.

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