A Flemish man named Ferdinand Verbiest introduced the first design for a self-propelled vehicle in 1672, in China, nearly one hundred years before the first internal combustion engine (Smith 25). From the late seventeenth century to the early nineteenth century, a series of vehicles, all propelled by steam, were constructed and demonstrated worldwide (Smith 34). The steam car was a superior machine in the nineteen hundreds (Smith 34). Steam cars were responsible for everyday travel, commercial transportation and even held land speed records (Smith36).
It wasnt until 1807 that the worlds first internal combustion engine was created, in France, by Nicephore Niepce (Smith 36). Another leader in the creation of the internal combustion engine was Francois Issac de Rivaz, who revolutionized the fuel that the engines ran on (Smith 36). Early automobiles powered by internal combustion engine ran on fuel made of powered and coal mixed with oil or a mixture of elements, such as hydrogen and oxygen (Smith 36). In 1824, and Englishman named Samuel Brown adapted the steam engine to burn gasoline and created the first gas vacuum engine (Smith 38).
Sir Dougald Clerk, of Scotland, was accredited in 1876 for designing the first successful two-stroke engine (Smith39). In 1890, Wilhelm Mayback created the first four-cylinder, four-stroke engine (Smith39). Everything changed in 1885, when vehicle engineering took a sharp turn towards the future in regards to efficiency and affordability, thanks to the German inventor, Karl Benz (Smith 49). As the market for economical automobiles in the late nineteenth century began to grow, the need for industrial production was pressing. Benz patented the first four-stroke engine to be placed in his companys production automobiles in 1888 (Smith 50).
The first large-scale assembly production lines appeared in the early 1900s, many of which are still around today (Smith 24). Oldsmobile and Ford were two of the first companies to successfully mass-produce vehicles to meet the vast automotive market needs. American entrepreneur, Henry Ford, invented and improved the assembly line and installed the first conveyor belt system in his automobile manufacturing plant, based in Detroit, Michigan (Smith 95). Assembly lines reduced production costs by training workers to become experts with one specific part of the automobile or machinery, thus reducing production costs (Smith 97).
Ford introduced the Model T in 1908, which could be assembled in an unprecedented ninety-three minutes. In the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, governments began to create and enforce automobile safety and environmental regulations (Smith 103). The World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations is a working party of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the goal of this organization is to facilitate international trade by creating a uniform model of regulations for vehicle design (Corbett 67).
The UNECE is also responsible for creating and enforcing regulations on vehicle safety among automotive manufacturers (Corbett 69). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than one million people are injured or fatally wounded on the worlds roads annually (Corbett 70). Some examples of vehicle regulations include seat belts, air bags and laminated windshields (Corbett 71). Seat belts limit the forward motion of the driver or passengers and absorb kinetic energy by stretching to retain movement if an accident occurs (Corbett 71).
Air bags inflate to cushion to cushion the impact of the vehicle occupants and are placed in various locations in the vehicles interior, such as steering wheels, dash and doors (Corbett 71). Laminated windshields are designed to remain in one piece when impacted to prevent shattering, while maintaining visual clarity just after an accident has occurred, allowing the driver to safely redirect themselves from harms way (Corbett 71). There are also regulations for vehicle side windows and back windshield (Corbett 72).
Windows and rear wind shields must be manufactured with tempered glass, which breaks into granules with minimally sharp edges, rather than splitting into jagged fragments as ordinary glass does (Corbett 72). Many new luxury features, such as paint color choices, differences in interior and upgraded designs and environmental features much as electric or hybrid engines in the twentieth century emerged on the market (Anderson and Anderson 167). The modern day automobile is a vehicle of evolutionary change and has transformed exponentially over the last several centuries.
Today, the leading manufacturers of automobiles are Toyota (Japan), General Motors (USA), Volkswagen (Germany) and Ford (USA) (Corbett 22). These leading manufacturers all embody features and characteristics that make their product and branding unique and memorable, as well as abiding by worldwide government standards which include regulations of vehicle safety, environmental protection, energy efficiency and theft resistance (Corbett 13-16, 18).
The evolution of motor vehicles from the seventeenth century to present-day is astounding. It would be reasonable to argue that the automobile is the single most evolved piece of modern machinery of all time. Motor vehicle usage has evolved over time, beginning with use for personal leisure and developed for commercial transportation, public transit and racing. The transformation of production and assembly, as well as the addition of customizable features mark the individualistic ideals of the twenty-first century.
There no doubt, motor vehicles will continue to evolve throughout time with environmental needs at the forefront worldwide and the ever-growing necessity of increasing luxury among automobile owners. Works Cited Anderson, Curtis Darrel, and Judy Anderson. Electric and Hybrid Cars: A History. Chicago: McFarland, 2010. Print. Corbett, David. A History of Cars. New York: Gareth Stevens Publishers, 2005. Print. Merriam-Webster, Inc. , . Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary. 11th. New York: Merriam-Webster, Inc. , 2003. Print. Smith, Kaelyn. A Brief History of Automobiles. New York: Websters Digital Services, 2011. Print.