From the start, automobiles have been a source of fascination and awe. The industry has never failed to captivate the imaginations of millions. Certainly, if Henry Ford or Louis Chevrolet were here today, the advances in the technology we use every day in our cars would have blown them away. There is no doubt that we've made incredible strides in this commerce and will continue to do so for generations to come. |
Where It All Began
With the norm being horse drawn carriages or brisk strolls, many were looking for the next step. Many steam-powered vehicles were proposed, designed, and some even built, but very few were practical in the beginning. As the steam engines progressed, they roused a great deal of concern, bringing about several U.K. "Locomotive Acts" to implement speed and load restrictions. These acts brought automotive development to a screeching halt, leading most developers to concentrate more on progress on the railway.
In other areas of the world, various other versions of the steam-powered contraptions were brought into being. For instance, in 1815, an oil-fired steam car was built by a polytechnic professor and a building and operator of steam buses built a phaeton, a type of open carriage, that could fit four people. All over the world, new brand names and types of steam engines were popping up throughout the 1800's.
A vehicle powered by gas was first designed and built in the late 1800's. It may surprise you to find that electric cars aren't a new concept either. They made a small debut in this era, but, sadly, the capabilities of technology were not yet reliable enough to trend away from gasoline. The combustion engine could go father and didn't take as long to refuel.
The Growth Of Industry in America
The U.S. wasn't left out of the fun. After the leaps and bounds from steam to combustion to electric engines, the auto industry was busting at the seams throughout the country. Three big names we still know today started in Michigan and quickly became the largest vehicle manufacturers in the world. More impressively, these companies continued seeing growth even through the depression. During this time, the US manufactured almost three-quarters of the world's cars.
Then and Now
With the growing demand, the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916 was established, earmarking $75 million to start building roads that would be suitable for driving these vehicles. During the coming years, companies have come and gone. Some survived the World Wars while others couldn't surface from the overwhelming growth of the "Big Three" and the ever-increasing foreign factories on US soil. That continues to be the trend even today though innovation is one constant lasting through the years.
Today the auto industry has managed to combine electricity and combustion under one hood. Electric cars are no longer a thing of the past, bringing about a new wave. Vehicles now have automated controls that assist the driver in preventing accidents and eliminating blind spots. Reflecting on the history of the auto industry makes one wonder what the future holds for us. Will we start seeing the automobiles we've seen in movies or will they be so much more than we could have ever imagined?
When needing to learn about industry, Flint, MI businesses turn to the Flint & Genesee Chamber of Commerce. To learn more, visit http://www.flintandgenesee.org/.
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