Experts who study the history of technology have not come to an agreement what was the first car, and who, out of more than 300 applicants, should be recognized as its inventor. For example, the French quite reasonably believe that the artillery captain Nicolas Joseph who built a three-wheeled cart, equipped with a massive steam boiler in 1769, was the first inventor. The Germans push their compatriot – Karl Benz who received a patent for a single self-propelled carriage with a gasoline engine (Foster, 2004). In the 20th century, a car received the fourth point of support. The emergence of compact and powerful internal combustion engine created enormous opportunities for the development of the automotive industry many years ago (Foster, 2004). Currently, there are different types of cars in the structure.
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The first model cars were made in the years 1885-86 by German inventors (Foster, 2004). Gottlieb Daimler in 1885 created and patented a three-wheel self-propelled carriage with a gasoline engine (Foster, 2004). Later, the same was done by Karl Benz. The car of Karl Benz was more perfect than Daimler’s. Engine with a capacity of 0.9 had a water cooling system (Foster, 2004). Unlike Daimler, who used hardening tubes, the car of Karl Benz had electric ignition fed from galvanic batteries (Foster, 2004). The most important distinguishing feature of the car of Karl Benz was the frame, which was welded from metal tubes. The car developed a speed of 16 km/h (Spellerberg, 2002).
Later in 1893, Benz produced a four-wheeled car, which had its own unique pivot system in which wheels could turn at the time. Thanks to this system, the wheels in a car were tuned alone, but not on the same axis as before. The grand breakthrough in the automotive industry received a proud name “Victoria” (Gutfreud, 2004). Later, a more lightweight model of Victoria was established, which was called “Bicycle” (Gutfreud, 2004). This model was released in early 1894, and for three years as much as 381 units were made. It is believed that it was this “Bicycle”, which became the first production car in the history.
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At the end of 19th century, Europe received the automotive industry (Gutfreud, 2004). Henry Ford actively used conveyor system in assembling cars and made great efforts for widespread road transport in the masses. At the beginning of 20th century, cars with steam and electric engines became popular. In the USA, by 1900 one-half of cars was already on a steam go. In the 1910’s, taxis in New York had up to 70,000 electric vehicles. The first diesel truck was made by Benz in 1923 (Gutfreud, 2004).
In the first decade of the 20th century, there were cars with the closed body – limousines, coupes and Landau, which were much expensive than open models. The limousine was considered to be the most prestigious, where the place for a driver was outside the cabin, trimmed with rich fabrics and precious woods. Passengers talked to a driver via an intercom or through a special window in the glass partition. The most exclusive cars had posted signs on the dashboard with which a passenger could inform a driver about his wishes: “home – right – left – fast – slow – stop” (Gruskin, 2006). In cold weather, passengers used hot-water heating, placed under a body, and special fur bags (Gruskin, 2006).
In the automotive area the French and Germans always worked intensively, so to speak, at the forefront. So, when Ferdinand Porsche invented a torsion bar suspension in 1932, two years later it was successfully mastered in mass production of Citroen. In order to comply with political correctness, important innovations by the members of other nations and peoples should be mentioned. The British introduced a system of lubrication at high pressure (1897), firstly used an all-metal body (1912), and disc brakes on all four wheels (1954) (Gruskin, 2006).
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Italians excelled in 1922, releasing a revolutionary Lancia Lambda with a monocoque body, independent front suspension and engine V4 with a cast aluminum block. In America, Cadillac introduced a number of innovative solutions: 4-cylinder engine (1905), electric starter, ignition and lighting (1912), the engine V8 (1915), and synchronized gearbox (1928). The apotheosis of the 30’s could be considered as a revolutionary 16-cylinder engine (Gruskin, 2006). In 1940, the Oldsmobile car models received automatic transmission Hydramatic, and Packard cars received air conditioning, which, however, took a significant part of a trunk.
With years, a final version of a car was modeled and it worked on a standard engine. Almost all engines in cars work in a four-stroke combustion cycle. It is also called Otto’s cycle due to its inventor Nicholas Otto. It includes:
- Intake stroke
- Compression stroke
- Combustion stroke
- Exhaust stroke (Gruskin, 2006).
The engine piston moves under the influence of combustion. It is connected to a crankshaft via a connecting rod. Since the crankshaft continues to rotate, it recharges piston and it still works. The piston starts its movement from the top point. The piston moves down when the inlet valve opens, sucking fuel and fresh air into a cylinder (Vuchic, 2000). Then it goes up and compresses the mixture of air and fuel. When it reaches its highest point, the candle gives a spark, which undermines the fuel mixture. The explosion causes a piston to move. When a piston comes to its lower position, the exhaust valve opens making the exhaust go out through exhaust pipe.
A modern driver now cannot be surprised with automatic transmission, with which even small urban cars are equipped. The number of gears in the most advanced “machines” has already reached seven. A number of car manufacturers (Audi, Honda, General Motors, Ford, Nissan, and Toyota) are actively using a continuously variable transmission (CVT).
Modern cars are literally packed with ingenious electro-mechanical devices, intended to prevent critical situations and make timely adjustments for a driver. Although, they significantly affect the weight and price of a car, without these electronic-mechanical things it is simply difficult survive in our dynamic and often crazy world. Engine power and speed are constantly increasing, and drivers become younger and younger. Therefore, to improve driver’s professionalism, companies, by caring about their lives, are making a lot of innovations.
Anti-lock braking system (ABS), which first appeared in 1978 on top models of Mercedes-Benz and BMW, controls the pressure in the system and helps a vehicle to maintain directional stability under hard braking. A great help was shown by ASR (Anti-Slip Regulation), also known as traction control – it keeps a car from drift and skid on wet, snowy or icy road by braking the wheels to spin and re-traction. There is also a growing popularity of Electronic Stability Program (ESP), developed by Bosch and successfully tested in Mercedes-Benz models ten years ago (Goddard, 2000).
It is possible that instead of a steering wheel a joystick-like knob may be created. However, at the dawn of motorization, something similar was already used. In the old days a driver steered with a long rod. Therefore, the future of a car cannot be predicted. Yet, it can be assumed that a completely automatic transport will be developed in order to eliminate any human errors.