There are countless milestones in the history of the automobile: a brief summary of the already more than 130-year history of the automobile – from the tricycle to today's mass consumer product.
With the three-wheeled Benz Patent Motor Car Number 1, the German inventor Carl Benz heralded the birth of the modern automobile with internal combustion engine in 1886. The "triciclette" was powered at the time by a precursor of the gasoline engines still in use today.
Almost at the same time and quite independently of Benz, Gottlieb Daimler of Cannstatt also designed a vehicle, for the sale of which he founded the Daimler Motor Company. The merger didn't happen until four decades later: in 1926, the two German automakers merged to form Daimler-Benz AG. Daimler had the first motorcycle before that (1885). The first motorboat (1886) developed.
Less than ten years after the invention of the modern car, Rudolf Diesel provided another pioneering achievement with the development of the first diesel engine. In 1893, he registered the patent "Method of operation and design of internal combustion engines".
Another big name in the German automotive world made history early on: In 1900, engineer Ferdinand Porsche introduced his Lohner-Porsche, the first fully functional electric car, which was also the first all-wheel-drive vehicle: rechargeable batteries powered electric motors on all four wheels. So the electric car is by no means an invention of the modern era, but new generations of batteries with more range are now making the electric car suitable for the masses.
Many mobility concepts had their origins early on. As early as 1913, for example, Audi's forerunner company NSU presented the 8/24, the first car with a lightweight aluminum body. This design did not go into production at Audi until 1999 with the Audi A2. The 1922 Lancia Lambda was the first self-supporting body car. This lightweight and cost-effective design has since become the standard.
It took another 26 years after the invention of the automobile until Henry Ford laid the foundation for the successful mass production and distribution of the automobile with the assembly line production of the Ford Model T in 1913. Suddenly vehicles were affordable not only for the upper social classes -. The incomparable success story of the automobile began. However, the greatest success in the history of automobiles was celebrated by a German brand: the VW Beetle, which was produced from 1938 until 2002, was the best-selling car in the world with 23.5 million units until production was discontinued.
The greatest influence on the automobile industry of the modern era was certainly the enterprising American Elon Musk, who startled the established manufacturers with his electric Tesla Roadster, which was built from 2008 to 2012. The two-seater was the world's first series-produced electric vehicle with a battery system consisting of lithium-ion batteries. Tesla became the pacemaker for electromobility worldwide. More and more manufacturers are now offering electric cars, but in parallel they are also developing hydrogen, hybrid or CNG-powered vehicles and are also driving forward the optimization of internal combustion engines. Because only a joint effort of all forms of propulsion can achieve a decarbonization of individual transport by 2050.