Top Technological Breakthroughs in Automotive History

Ever since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, technology has developed at an ever-increasing rate. The same implies to the automotive industry, from their low starting as slow, unrealistic alternatives to carriages that only rich people could afford, cars became technological marvels that are a shared vision on today’s streets.

The history of automotive technology is vast and mesmerizing, which offers a greater acknowledgment of the current position of the industry. Here is a detail of the most significant technological breakthroughs that made the cars what it is today.

Invention of Steam Power, 1873

At the end of the 18th Century, the introduction of steam engines has transformed the automotive industry. The first steam-powered vehicle was designed in 1768, though the original layout was impractical. William Murdoch designed an improved steam carriage in 1784. However, the first steam-powered vehicle did not meet the need of the general public, due to which several supporting technologies were invented, including transmission systems, hand brakes, and steering systems.

Internal Combustion Has Changed the Landscape, 1876

In 1876, Nikolaus Otto developed the four-stroke gasoline-powered internal combustion engine, which paved the track for future updates of the automotive industry. This gasoline-powered internal combustion engine offered more power than steam engines. Meanwhile, other inventors also started testing their inventions. Karl Benz provided a patent on a two-stroke gasoline engine in 1879. In 1885, he designed the four-stroke engine. Soon thereafter, Alfred Buchi invented the turbocharger, and supercharger by Gottlieb Daimler. An alternative four-stroke engine was created in 1896 by Rudolf Diesel. Integrating these updates into cars made it faster and more powerful, but still, it was expensive.

Introduction of Affordable Cars, 1908

Earlier, the gasoline-powered vehicles were functional, but their production cost kept it beyond the reach of most consumers. With the introduction of Model T by Henry Ford in 1908, the scenario of the automotive industry has completely changed. Model T was unveiled at $825, which is similar to today’s $21000. It was powered by a 20-horsepower engine and three-speed manual transmission, which accelerated a top speed of 45 mph. Ford has alone sold a record-breaking 10700 units of Model T in the first year, and it is on the list of the most sold vehicles even now.

Electric Starters Made it More Easier, 1911

Ahead of the invention of the electric starter, drivers had to manually start the engine, which was disruptive and even dangerous. Charles Kettering has developed the first electric starter in 1911, and the innovation was first used in 1912 by Cadillac. This update has made vehicles safer and allowed owners to crank their cars by seating inside it.

Mass Production of Cars Became Efficient, 1913

Henry Ford has introduced the idea of the moving assembly line for mass production in 1913, which made the production rate considerably faster. Besides this, every vehicle was hand-made, and workers had to know every feature of it. Hence, appointed workers so that each of them works on a specific part of the process of production, executing machine tools and moving the car along the line, Ford was able to reduce the time it took to assemble a single car.

Introduction of Hydraulic Brakes, 1922

It was another step towards achieving safety, as it took less time to come to a full form. Fred Duesenberg has started using hydraulic brakes on his racing cars in 1914, unveiled it to passenger cars in 1922 when its potential was recognized finally. Martin Lougheed has developed a similar hydraulic braking system and patented it in 1918. It also offered a massive increase in stopping power for drivers, before its invention, automobile brakes depend on simple mechanical power.

Invention of Power Steering, 1926

Francis Wright David has introduced a power steering system in 1926, which connected the steering wheel to a hydraulic system to move it more comfortable. This all-new system made it flexible for drivers to steer, but automakers did not adopt it due to its cost. The first commercial power steering vehicle debuted in 1951, and today every car comes with a power steering feature.

Invention of Automatic Transmission, 1939

In 1939, General Motors introduced the Hydra-Matic automatic transmission to make the performance of a car a bit more convenient. It used fluid coupling and planetary gears to shift the transmission automatically. The function of fluid coupling is to smooth the transition between gears and freed the need of using a mechanical clutch to control gear ratios. Since the vehicle can change gears on its own, it meant fewer distractions while driving.

Injection of Electronic Fuel to Produce More Power, 1957

Chrysler, along with the coordination of Bendix Corporation, has introduced the electrojector system in 1957, which is the first-ever electronically controlled fuel injection system. It used fuel pumps and electronic controls to deliver fuel directly to the cylinders, but that time the technology failed to support the system. Chrysler has sold the patents to Bosche, who continued to develop the idea. Bosch introduced the first fully-digital fuel injection system in 1982. By means of controlling the fuel and air delivered to the cylinders, the fuel injection system permitted carmakers to enhance power while steadily reduces emissions.

Anti-Lock Brakes for More Control, 1971

Chrysler has added the anti-lock brake system to the Chrysler Imperial in 1971. The all-new system used hydraulic valves and computerized control to avert the vehicle from skidding while braking. They provoked other manufacturers to invent their own systems, including Nissan, Ford, Toyota, and General Motors. In the European Market, Ford Scorpio has introduced the first car to featured with anti-lock brakes in 1985. After its success, other manufacturers have started featuring anti-lock brakes as standard safety equipment in vehicles. The anti-lock brakes also started featuring motorcycles from 1988.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, automotive technology has continued to improve. However, there are a lot more things to get updated.