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The History of the Vehicle Industry Essay


The automotive industry (automotive industry) is that industry that is involved in the designing, developing, manufacturing, marketing and selling of motor vehicles. This industry has been rated as one of the most important industries in the world for its significance and contribution to the economy. The automotive industry came about after the invention of the steam engine automobile that was designed to make transportation easy (Georgano, 1985).

The success of the car industry was made possible with the help of the inputs from different individuals. The main objective of this paper is to talk about the car industry, showing how it came about and developed. Some of the great people who played a big role in building this industry will also be discussed.

History of the automobile

The history of the vehicle industry began in the mid 18th century where the first steam engine vehicle was invented in order to facilitate the transportation of humans. Later on in 1806, the first vehicle, which had an internal combustion engine, came to being. This vehicle ran on fuel gas. This later led to the first car that had an internal combustion engine in 1885.

The man behind this great invention was Karl Benz, who is one of the greatest men that have made the vehicle industry a success. It was after then that he was granted a patent and he began manufacturing his first line of automobiles. This was also after his wife, Bertha Benz, took a long trip in the automobile and personally confirmed that it was suitable for use daily and that it was better than a horse-drawn coach (Kay, 1997).

Nikolaus Otto is another man who played a role in the vehicle industry. He contributed by designing the four-stroke petrol engine that was an internal combustion engine. This type of engine constitutes most of the current and modern vehicles that exist today. Rudolf Diesel later brought in a new thing onto the table.

He invented a four-stroke internal combustion engine that ran on diesel. Christian Friedrich Schonbein later came in and brought in a technology that managed to replace the gasoline engines. This was the hydrogen fuel cell. The possibility of building a battery electric vehicle was made possible by Anyos Jedlik, who was one among those who invented the electric car. This was also facilitated by the invention of the lead-acid battery. It was invented by Gaston Plante (Halberstam, 1986).

Vehicle industry

The first vehicle industry can be said to have developed in 1871 after Carhart created the first vehicle (automobile) that was the size of a carriage. He was a minister at a certain church in Wisconsin. His efforts caught the attention of the State of Wisconsin and led them to want to facilitate the venture. The state then offered an award of $ 10,000 to the first person who would manufacture an automobile that would provide a permanent substitute for the use of animals such as the horse for transportation purposes (Halberstam, 1986).

However, there were conditions to the met concerning the properties of the type of vehicle to be produced. They wanted a vehicle which could maintain a certain speed. This was set at 5 miles/hour. This would be tested over a two hundred-mile course. This offer led to the initiation of the first vehicle race in the United States. This race was supposed to run between two cities. In this race, seven vehicles had recorded.

Unfortunately, only two of these began to compete. These two were from Green Bay and Oshkosh. The one from Green Bay started off well and appeared faster than its opponent. It is only unfortunate that it broke down before the race was over. The vehicle from Oshkosh finished successfully in about 1 day and 10 hours. It was a 201 mile course all together. The average speed also exceeded the stipulated speed of five miles per hour since it had an average speed of six miles an hour. Half of the prize was then offered by the state.

Henry ford

Ford founded the Ford Company. He also sponsored the development of mass production of an assembly line. He was also the founder of the Model T. Since he owned the big company, he emerged among the richest and the most famous people in the world (Silverstein, 2000). The term ‘Fordism’, which was derived from his name, was a term developed to mean the production of cheap goods but with the payment of high wages to the workers.

Ford’s passion for engines started at his early years but when he grew up and got a job which offered good money, he decided to devote some of his free time to experimenting on engines. One of his experiments led to the development of a vehicle that propelled itself. He named it the Ford Quadricycle. When it was completed, he test-drove it and brainstormed on ways of improving it. When he was approved by Thomas Edison, Ford decided to build a second vehicle.

Later on, Ford resigned from his former job in order to start his own company – the Detroit Automobile Company. However, the vehicles produced did not meet the quality he desired. They were of lower quality. Ford was not pleased about this since the company was not successful.

This led to the dissolving of the company in 1901. In October the same year, Ford – with the help of a colleague – designed and built a twenty-six horsepower vehicle. He successfully raced this vehicle. Due to the success, Ford decided to form partnerships and start another company. It was called the Henry Ford Company. However, Ford later left the company and it was renamed the Cadillac Automobile Company.

In 1903, Malcomson and Ford started the Ford Motor Company. They designed a new car and Ford gave an exhibition in it. The vehicle was driven on ice and it broke the land speed record by hitting the 147 kilometers-per-second mark. In honor of the winner vehicle that day, the driver of the vehicle drove it around the country in order to advertise the new brand (Reich, 1999).

Other automobile industries

One of the world’s largest vehicle industries is in India. It is also one of the fastest growing ones around the globe. The production of passenger vehicles and the commercial vehicles in India is the seventh largest globally. It produces over 11 million vehicles every year. Of this number, 1.5 million units are exported. The vehicle industry in Brazil is the sixth largest but it has been forecasted that the one in India will overtake it since it is the fastest growing.


The vehicle industry is a very important industry in the world since the vehicle is the primary mode of transport in most countries, especially the developed ones. By 2007, there were a total of eight hundred and six million vehicles on the roads around the globe. These vehicles collectively consumed two hundred and sixty billion gallons of fuel yearly.

The newly developing auto markets are responsible for most of the sales of automobiles. Research has shown that the emerging markets are responsible for the sale of more than half of all the light vehicles. Research also suggests that this trend is to increase (Einstein, 1929).

The vehicle industry has also enhanced the transportation industry since most forms of transport are made over the road. Vehicles have aided in the growth of the economy since it has facilitated the transport of raw materials to the industries and the transportation of the manufactured commodity to the market.

Road transport is also quite cheap and it is used by most people. Some economies have benefited a lot from the transportation industry by providing transport for people and other commodities for a fee. This industry has also employed many people. People are being employed in the manufacturing industry itself and there are also those who are employed as drivers to drive the ready-made vehicles.


The car industry is an industry involving the manufacture and sale of vehicles. This industry has a history as it began with the invention of the first steam engine. With time, more sophisticated models were invented and introduced into the market. The vehicle industry has grown robustly and now there is production of millions of vehicles yearly from many countries in the world. Various great people contributed to the emergence and success of this industry and the world celebrates them.


Einstein, P. (1929). U.S. makes ninety percent of world’s automobiles. Popular Science Monthly, 21(1), 84.

Georgano, N. (1985). Cars: Early and vintage, 1886-1930. London: Grange-Universal.

Halberstam, D. (1986). The reckoning. New York, NY: Morrow.

Kay, J. (1997). Asphalt nation: How the automobile took over America and how we can take it back. New York, NY: Crown Publishers.

Reich, S. (1999). The Ford Motor Company and the third Reich. Dimensions, 13(2), 15-17.

Silverstein, K. (2000). Ford and the Fuhrer. The Nation, 270(3), 11-16.

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"The History of the Vehicle Industry." IvyPanda, 28 Apr. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-history-of-the-vehicle-industry/.

1. IvyPanda. "The History of the Vehicle Industry." April 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-history-of-the-vehicle-industry/.


IvyPanda. "The History of the Vehicle Industry." April 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-history-of-the-vehicle-industry/.


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IvyPanda. (2020) 'The History of the Vehicle Industry'. 28 April.

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