Carl Benz obtains a patent for a motor-driven vehicle with three wheels in January 1886. That same year, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach take a version of a gasoline engine they developed themselves and install it in a carriage, thereby creating the first four-wheeled motor vehicle.
At 130 years old, the car has never been more mobile, thanks in part to the fact that it is constantly being developed and reinvented.
Henry Ford installs the world’s first assembly line at his production hall in Detroit. For his Model T, it represents a breakthrough. Able to produce faster and cheaper, Ford manages to sell approximately 15 million Model Ts by 1927.
Industrial production promotes abandoning artisanal materials like wood in favor of the construction principle of the steel body. The first all-steel body was introduced on the market by American car manufacturer Dodge. Assembly line construction attracts imitators in Germany as well. In 1924, the first 'Laubfrosch' (tree frog) leaves the assembly line of the Opel plant in Rüsselsheim. In 1934, Ferdinand Porsche develops his concept for the Volkswagen, but series production does not begin until 1946. Power steering and seatbelts are offered for the first time in the 1950s.
Manufacturers increasingly turn to galvanized steel sheet to avoid the problem of corrosion. The 1972 Subaru Leone is the first automobile with all-wheel drive to be mass produced. Two years later, General Motors develop the first catalytic convertors for gasoline engines. Mercedes equips its S class with the first ABS, and then with a driver-side airbag later on.
Requirements such as stability (crash behavior), weight (lightweight construction), and appearance (aerodynamic, flexible forms) become increasingly important. This leads to the development of new, mild steel grades that are easy to shape as well as higher-strength grades with acceptable forming properties. The first automobile with a hybrid engine enters production at the turn of the 21st century.
An automobile’s prestige is no longer determined by its size or horsepower rating. Efficiency and flexibility are crucial. To address these changes, innovative, higher-strength steels, material compounds, and production processes are being developed. Car sharing models are making major strides, especially in urban areas. R&D departments are busy with technologies such as driver assistance systems and steer-by-wire/brake-by-wire or with the transition to electromobility.
More people will be on the go much more often in the future. And so mobility by the middle of the 21st century will not be limited to new types of engines and spatial movement. Sustainability, new energy infrastructures, and post-fossil fuels mobility concepts will also play a part, as will networked cities, car-to-car communication, and intelligent transport systems. Products and services connected with mobility will also remain a major growth market in the future as well.