The invention of automobiles dates back to 1769 when Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot created the concept.
Cugnot invented a complicated, three-wheeled steam-engine.
The invention was never commercialized because it couldn't compete with the horse industry. Horses were faster, easier to use, less expensive, and commercially more profitable than a steam-powered car.
Since their domestication, horses had been an integral part of the human economy, accounting for billions in revenues and employing millions of people.
For centuries, horses were the proven method of ground transportation for most of the world. There was no enterprise or individual that did not rely upon horses.
Anything related to ground transportation was defined in "horse terms". The steam train was called the "iron horse". A bicycle was known as the "poor man's horse". The trolley car was called the "horseless carriage". Performance capability was known as "horsepower", which we still use to this day.
James Watt used the word "horsepower" to describe the pulling capacity of a steam train, which he calculated to be approximately 33,000 foot-pounds per minute based upon his work with horses.
The horse industry was a powerful economic force and automobile inventors would have to compete against it to be successful.
The invention of automobile technology threatened a profitable industry.
These industries were not going to accept competition without resistance.
Automobiles had to compete with the powerful horse industry and market research was important if cars were to be a viable alternative.
To give you an example of this competition, here is what the President of the Michigan Savings Bank said in 1901, "The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty, a fad."
Can you guess what industry Michigan Savings was financing?
Automobiles had to be easy to use, they had to solve problems, provide benefits, be affordable and profitable.
In 1807, Swiss inventor Francois Isaac de Rivaz, invented the first internal combustion engine using hydrogen as fuel. This started a series of engine innovations by German engineers Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach, Siegfried Marcus, Rudolf Diesel and Karl Benz.
In 1879, Benz invented an internal combustion engine fueled by gasoline.
Daimler and Maybach manufactured automobiles in 1889 as the Daimler Motor Company. They produced about thirty automobiles powered by a two-cylinder, 1.5 hp gas engine with a four-speed transmission.
Benz also manufactured automobiles around 1889 as the Benz & Cie Company. They produced about twenty-five automobiles powered by four-stroke gas engines.
Daimler and Benz merged their companies together to become the Daimler-Benz Company and eventually marketed their automobiles under the brand names Daimler and Mercedes Benz.
Although the internal combustion engines could challenge the speed of horses, there were still issues that made cars non-competitive.
Originally, gasoline was used as a treatment for lice and as a cleaning solvent. When used as fuel for internal combustion engines, the high compression would result in early ignition - causing the engines to "knock" and "sputter".
This problem was resolved in later years by using a lead additive.
The Horse Barons referred to this as "chugg and puff" and warned the public of the dangers of noise and air pollution.
They created a culture of fear among the public and were successful in lobbying for legislation that restricted cars from traveling the same roadways as horses.
The Car Barons responded by promoting the benefits of their automobiles by comparing them to what was undesirable about horses. Millions of horses traveled throughout most cities.
A quarter of a million horses traveled within New York City daily. These animals required vasts amounts of feed and water , and created vast amounts of manure. During the summer heat, the odor and flies were intolerable.
Cars didn't get hungry, thirsty or tired, and didn't produce manure like horses.
Henry Ford, much like his friend Thomas Edison, understood the need for commercializing inventions for profit.
Despite the invention of automobile technologies, cars were still not competitive with horses. Ford created manufacturing innovations that made automobiles affordable, competitive and profitable.
Vehicles would travel along an assembly line. Workers would be assigned a location and would perform a specific task on each vehicle. These tasks were repetitive and performed within a certain amount of time.
This allowed a car to be made within 90 minutes, which was 7 times faster than any other manufacturer. A quick-drying paint was needed to keep up with production. The paint used was only available in one color - black.
Manufacturers also shared the same component parts thus lowering costs by combining volumes. Brakes, suspensions, windows and drive trains were interchangeable among manufacturers.
Automobiles had become affordable, profitable and competitive. All over the world people were trading in their horses for cars.
The invention of automobile technology would eventually replace horses as ground transportation.