Today’s cars can have up to 700 horsepower, but in the 1800s, a horse and buggy were the means of ground transportation. That mode of transportation was literally 1 or 2 horsepower! Or, in some cases, oxen or donkeys.
Then enter the first car invented in 1886 and was invented by an Austrian Karl Benz. This car used an internal combustion engine and sported three wood wheels. All previous car attempts used steam power, and there was extraordinarily little success. It is the drive of technology into our human needs and inventions that shows itself in automobile development. Next came the real production level car, the “Ford produced Model T.”
1908 The Ford Model T was the first car that could be mass-produced on an assembly line and, for the day, was full of technology. It also had a 20-horsepower gas engine and could also reach speeds approaching 45 mph. This is backward in history on today’s standards, but when you went from a horse and buggy to a Motel T, it was a big user experience event. We see this user experience today as we move into autopilot software, as you can find in the Tesla SUV. However, the Model T holds the gold standard as the first car invented, which could be mass-produced.
Another excellent technology jump was the invention of 1911 electric ignition starters. The early cars had what was known as a “hand crank,” which was located in the front of the car. Hand cranks became extremely dangerous to use as the car might “jump” when the engine is started. The first electric starter found its place on a Cadillac in 1912.
There as a litany of other inventions, for example:
- 1912 cigarette lighters
- 1930 car radio
- 1934 coil spring suspension
- 1949 car keys
- 1951 power steering
- 1953 air conditioning
- 1958 cruise control
- 1959 seat-belts
- 1960 electric windows
- 1969 intermittent windshield wipers
- 1970 cassette tape stereos
- 1971 ABS technology
- 1973 catalytic converter
- 1974 digital dashboard displays
- 1984 CD players
- 1988 airbags
- 1992 electromagnetic parking sensors
- 1994 onboard diagnostics
- 1996 mobile email
- 2000 GPS and Sat navigation
- 2001 remote diagnostics
- 2003 digital net access device
- 2016 LTE high-speed telemetrics become standard
- 2000 hybrid cars
- 2001 Bluetooth
- 2002 reversing camera
- 2003 automatic parking
- 2010 driver-assist features
- 2014 tesla autopilot
- 2014 4G wifi hotspots
- 2020 self-driving cars
As you can see from the first car key invented in 1949, there has been a technology growth in this area. From the metal keys, remote control unlocks/lock and then to the smartphone. That is a giant technology leap, as you can see in the picture above. Technology cars influenced many peripheral industries, as you can see here with the car key development.
In 1968 we got the “connected car” chunk full of technology. Let’s look at this before we continue our time machine of car development. The connected car first started with a service known as “On Star,” which can connect you immediately if you should need help. High-speed telemetrics became standard on the connected cars. All these inventions were a teachable moment, but how much depends on how much of a leap in technology they brought to the industry.
With all this vehicle technology growth, and when you look at a company like Tesla, it is more like an explosion in technology, not just a step-by-step growth as we have seen in the past. Things are moving so fast when you go from a three-petal car to a one or even a no petal car. As this is exploding, we need to consider more driving instruction with these new cars and technology. Much of the new autopilot features are even counterintuitive, and therefore we must take more time for training. Also, in some cases, Tesla car models all have something different that must be taught.