Timeline of the Automobile

Timeline created by Rebeccagfraser@gmail.com
  • Sep 7, 1478

    The Self-Propelled Cart

    The Self-Propelled Cart
    Leonardo da Vinci invents the self-propelled cart. This happens many years before anyone else is even thinking about automobiles. However, the cart remains a sketch on paper and is never actually made. This self-propelled cart is not a car like we see today, but is more similar to a wagon, and does not have an actual seat.
  • Cugnot's Tractor

    Cugnot's Tractor
    Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot builds the first self-propelled road vehicle in France, a tractor for the French army. It has three wheels and moves at about 2.5 miles per hour.
  • First US Patent

    American, Oliver Evans, receives the first US patent for a steam-powered land vehicle.
  • The "Puffing Devil"

    The "Puffing Devil"
    In Great Britain, inventor Richard Trevithick builds a steam powered road carriage. It is considered to be the first tramway locomotive. It is designed for use on the road, not the railroad.
  • Moving Away from Steam Power

    Moving Away from Steam Power
    An internal combustion engine which uses a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen is invented by Francois Isaac de Rivaz in Switzerland. He also designs a car for the engine, the first automobile powered by internal combustion. However, his design turns out to be very unsuccessful.
  • Internal Combustion to Power A Vehicle

    Internal Combustion to Power A Vehicle
    English engineer and inventor Samuel Brown invents an internal combustion engine. It has separate combustion and working cylinders, and is used to power a vehicle.
  • The Electric Carriage

    The Electric Carriage
    Robert Anderson invents the first crude electric carriage in Scotland. It is powered by non-rechargeable primary power cells.
  • The Horseless Carriage

    The Horseless Carriage
    Belgian engineer Jean-Joseph-Etienne Lenoir invents the “horseless carriage.” It uses an internal combustion engine and can move at about 3 miles per hour. This is the first commercially successful internal combustion engine.
  • Improving on the Internal Combustion Engine

    German Nikolaus August Otto improves on the internal combustion engine. His engine is the first to efficiently burn fuel directly in a piston chamber.
  • Using Gasoline

    Julius Hock, of Vienna, builds the first internal combustion engine running on gasoline.
  • George Baldwin Selden

    American George Baldwin Selden invents a combined internal combustion engine with a carriage. It is never manufactured.
  • The 4-cycle Engine

    The 4-cycle Engine
    Otto builds the four-cycle internal combustion engine, which is the prototype for modern car engines.
  • First U.S. Automobile Patent

    First U.S. Automobile Patent
    American inventor George Baldwin files the first U.S. Patent for an automobile. This invention is more similar to a wagon with an internal combustion engine.
  • Karl Benz's Automobile

    Karl Benz's Automobile
    German engine designer Karl Benz builds the first true automobile powered by a gasoline engine. It has three wheels and looked similar to a carriage.
  • Ford's First Car

    Ford's First Car
    In Michigan, Henry Ford builds his first automobile.
  • “Cannstatt-Daimler”

    Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach invent the first four-wheeled, four-stroke engine in Germany. It is known as the “Cannstatt-Daimler.”
  • Gas Power and the U.S.

    Gas Power and the U.S.
    Brothers Frank and Charles Edgar Duryea invent the first successful gas-powered car in the United States.
  • Motor Wagons

    Motor Wagons
    The Duryea brothers start the first American car manufacturing company in Springfield, Massachusetts. It is called Motor Wagons.
  • The Steering Wheel

    The Steering Wheel
    A steering wheel is designed to replace the steering tiller.
  • Alabama and the First "Speed Limit"

    Alabama and the First "Speed Limit"
    Alabama sets a state maximum speed limit of 8 miles per hour.
  • Ford's "Model T"

    Ford's "Model T"
    Ford’s Model T production rockets from 7.5 cars per hour to 146 cars per hour, thanks to the utilization of the assembly line.
  • The Radio

    The Radio
    The car radio is introduced.
  • The "Jeep"

    The "Jeep"
    The first four-wheel drive, all-purpose vehicle is designed for the U.S. Military. It becomes known as the Jeep.
  • The Interstate Highway Act

    The Interstate Highway Act
    The Interstate Highway Act creates a network of highways which connects all parts of the United States.
  • The First Seat Belt Law

    Wisconsin becomes the first state to create a seat belt law. It calls for the seatbelt to be a standard requirement in automobiles.
  • Air Bags

    Air Bags
    Air bags become a new car safety option.
  • Seat Belts in New York

    Seat Belts in New York
    New York state becomes the first state with a law requiring the use of seatbelts.
  • GPS

    The car Global Positioning System, or GPS, is introduced.
  • The "New" Electric Car

    The "New" Electric Car
    Due to the rising cost of gasoline and impact of global climate change, zero-emission electric vehicles come back to auto showrooms. The first electric vehicles had been designed in the early 1800s.
  • The Prius

    The Prius
    The first Toyota Prius is sold in Japan.
  • Late 2000's and the Fall of the SUV

    Late 2000's and the Fall of the SUV
    Many vehicle manufacturers begin to abandon once popular gas-guzzling SUVs for more efficient vehicles due to environmental concerns and the recession.