Despite the predominance of cars in our lives, they haven’t been around for very long. The first motor car hit the roads less than 150 years ago. The first car, the Benz Patent Motorwagen, was little more than a bench, three wheels, and a one-cylinder engine. How times have changed!
Today, we have advanced safety features and extended warranty plans to maintain the ever-increasing technology. These range from complete health insurance for your car to a simple co-pay system that guarantee your costs. We have seen giant leaps forward in a remarkably short time in automobile innovation.
The modern car is a technological tour de force that can drive itself, entertain us along the way and take over when we’re about to crash. So how did we get from that rickety horseless carriage to the advanced road rockets of today?
Progress has come in evolutionary steps. Here are a few of our favorite moments that have changed the car industry forever.
The 6 Greatest Innovations
1. Internal Combustion Engine (1886)
There were steam-powered and even electric carriages in action before German engine designer Karl Benz rocked the world with a horseless carriage powered by an internal combustion engine.
Benz sold just 25 of his original Patent Motorwagens with a fearsome 10mph top speed before he moved on to better things. He would later join forces with Gottlieb Daimler to lay the foundations of Daimler and Mercedes-Benz.
2. Mass Production (1914)
Henry Ford gave the world more than a great car with the Model T. The production line on which it was built went on to become the model for the entire car industry. It isn’t the sexiest innovation in automotive history, but it is one the most important.
Ford’s Model T brought car ownership to the masses. Before Henry Ford released his biggest hit and one of the best-selling cars of all time, only the elites could afford the coach-built horseless carriages. Mass manufacturing slashed the production time and the costs involved, which gave the average Ford worker the chance to buy a Model T.
3. Starter Motor (1912)
Early cars needed a helping hand to get started and the hand-cranking process itself was notoriously dangerous. Way too many people broke their arms on those old starter motors until Cadillac brought an end to their suffering with the first production electric motor.
The dreaded hand cranks did survive into the 1920s and the Citroen 2CV was supplied with a crank as a back-up if the electric motor failed.
4. Retractable Seat Belts (1959)
The basic seat belt was invented in the mid-19th century, but in the 1950s road safety took a massive leap forward when a neurosurgeon in California got tired of treating head injuries. Dr. C. Hunter Sheldon created the first retractable seat belt, but it was only part of the puzzle.
Volvo produced the three-point seatbelt and incorporated the retractable element. This could have led to huge profits for Volvo, but the company gave the invention away to the industry in an altruistic display that has saved millions of lives.
5. Traction Control (1971)
Modern cars will forgive the kind of ham-fisted driving that would have resulted in a crash in the nearest tree in the old days. Traction control and the Electronic Stability Control systems that have evolved from that simple system can take a lot of the credit.
Buick was the first to use a crude form of traction control on a production vehicle when it debuted its MaxTrac system on its larger models. MaxTrac detected wheel-spin and cut the power to save the driver from themselves.
Anti-lock brakes are essentially an extension of the same traction control technology and now the systems work together.
Now, advanced algorithms analyze wheel-spin, lateral slip, acceleration and all manner of other factors to produce an electronic stability control system, or torque vectoring, which takes traction control to a whole new level.
6. Self-Driving Cars (2014)
We have barely begun the era of self-driving cars, but there’s no doubt that we’re heading into a whole new world of technical innovation.
Tesla forced the industry’s hand by pressing ahead with its Autopilot system as an option in 2014. While this is a driver’s assistance program, we’re still far from full autonomy. But there are clear signs that Autopilot is safer than an unassisted driver. In just a few short years, the steering wheel and pedals may disappear as the car takes the reins.
Self-driving cars are arguably the biggest technical change the industry has seen for decades. Autonomous cars could prove as important as the electric motor and the internal combustion engine in the long run.
Driving in the Modern World
Technical innovation will keep on coming and pushing the bounds of technology means it’s even more important to make sure that you have an extended warranty in place. That’s especially true of older cars that are out of warranty and laden with computer-controlled technology.
As cars have progressed, so have the warranty policies and you can now opt for a choice of Protect My Car extended warranty plans that can cover the costs of repairs and breakdowns, or the Ambassador Policy that guarantees fixed costs for certain repairs and gives you peace of mind.
Take care of the technology on your drive and it will take care of you. Get in touch today for an extended warranty plan from Protect My Car.