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Automotive Milestones

Automobiles have gone through a large number of changes since Carl Benz’s 1886 Motorcar. Numerous milestones and significant automotive events have made vehicles more efficient, comfortable, and reliable.

Timeline of Automotive Milestones 
1769- 1770Nicholas Cugnot built and demonstrated the Cugnot steam traction engine.
1876Nikolaus Otto developed the four-stroke engine.
1886Carl Benz patented the world’s first practical motorcar.

Daimler-Benz Company formed.

1892Rudolf Diesel patented the diesel engine.
1895The word “automobile” coined.
1897Automotive insurance introduced.

Olds Motor Vehicle Company organized.

1900Steam and electric vehicles more popular than gasoline powered vehicles.
1901Ransom Olds used an assembly line to build the first mass-produced automobile, the Curved Dash Oldsmobile, which sold for $650.
1902American Automobile Association (AAA) formed.

Cadillac Automobile Company organized.

1903Ford Motor Company formed.

Buick Motor Company founded.

Windshield wiper invented by Mary Anderson.

1908Model T introduced and sold for $850.

General Motors Company organized.

1911Chevrolet Motor Company organized.

Self starter invented.

1914Cleveland, Ohio the first city with traffic lights.

Henry Ford raised the minimum daily wage from $2.30 to $5.00.

1916Brake lights installed.
1917The all-steel wheel developed.
1937Toyota Motor Company, Ltd. established.
1938Volkswagen Beetle produced.
1939Nash Motor Company offered air conditioning.

Hydra-matic (automatic) transmission introduced.

1942- 1945U.S. automotive manufacturers supported Allied Powers by producing airplanes, tanks, etc.
1948Honda Motor Co. formed with $3,300.
1951Power steering installed in cars.
1954Fuel injection used on Mercedes-Benz 300SL.
1965Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act passed, the first federal emissions standards.
1973Arab oil producers imposed U.S. export ban of oil.
1997Toyota Prius introduced and sold in Japan.
1999Honda Insight Hybrid introduced in U.S.
2006Ford Motor Company planned to cut North American workforce by 25%.
2007Tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) required.
2009General Motors and Chrysler filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
2010Tesla Motors launched its IPO (initial public offering) and became a publicly traded company.
2011Average age of a U.S. vehicle was 10.8 years old.
2013The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) require new fuel economy and environmental label for all new cars and trucks.