The origin of…Car

“Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car.” E.B. White


The first full-scale self-propelled mechanical vehicle was invented by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot who created a steam-powered tricycle in 1769. The first steam-powered road vehicle was invented by Richard Trevithick in 1801. Several different steam-powered road vehicles were used in the first part of the 19th century, until Nicéphore Niépce and his brother Claude built the first internal combustion engine, the Pyréolophore, in 1807 in France. Rather than using it on a road vehicle they installed it on a boat. In that same year, François Isaac de Rivaz invented the de Rivaz internal combustion engine and installed it on a vehicle.
None of these vehicles were very successful and practical and there were no viable options until 1878 when Karl Benz invented what can be considered as the first modern car. He built his first Motorwagen in 1885 in Mannheim, Germany, which was patented in 1886. In 1896, Benz designed and patented the first internal-combustion flat engine, called boxermotor. Benz became the largest car company in the wolrd with 572 units produced in 1899.

In 1890 Daimler and Maybach founded Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft and when Daimler died in 1900, Maybach designed the Daimler-Mercedes engine. Later on Maybach quit DMG and started his own business.
In 1924 Benz and DMG signed an Agreement of Mutual Interest in which they specified to standardize design, production, purchasing, and sales and advertisement of their car models jointly (although keeping their respective brands). The agreement was followed by a merger in 1926.

The first vehicle with a gasoline internal combustion engine in America was built by George Selden in 1877 in Rochester. Other cars followed but the first large-scale production line debuted only in 1902 and was invented by Ransom Olds. Henry Ford expanded this concept and is now widely known for assembly-line manufacturing. Ford´s cars came off the line in 15-minute intervals which was so fast that paint became a bottleneck. The only paint that would dry fast enough was Japan black, the color that all of his cars were painted until fast-drying Duco lacquer was invented in 1926. The combination of high wages and high efficiency, known as Fordism, was copied by almost all major industries.

In Japan the automotive industry was very small before WWII, but nowadays Toyota is the biggest automaker with over 10 million vehicles sold. Second comes in Volkswagen and third General Motors.

The future of cars now lies in electric cars and driverless, or autonomous, cars. These vehicles are capable of detecting their environment and navigating without human input.

1. a vehicle that has four wheels and an engine and that is used for carrying passengers on roads
2. a separate section of a train (source: Merriam Webster).

English car comes from from Anglo-French carre, Old North French carre, from Vulgar Latin *carra, from Latin carrum, carrus, originally two-wheeled Celtic war chariot, from Gaulish karros, a Celtic word, from Proto Indo European *krsos, from the root *kers-, to run (source:
Dutch auto is short for automobiel and comes from French automobile, propelling itself, from Greek autos, (it)self and Latin mobilis, movable, from movēre, to move.
Spanish coche comes from Hungarian kocs, a type of horse-drawn carriage.
Italian macchina comes from Latin machine, from Greek mechanè

Car in other languages:
Dutch: de auto
Spanish: el coche (also el carro)
Italian: la macchina


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