What market factors led to the development of automobiles, and how are those factors different today?

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As we explore the automobile of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, we will examine what market factors led to the development of the automobile, how these factors have shaped the automobile into what it is today, and how we anticipate these factors will drive the creation of future automobiles. We will learn through investigation and analysis just how powerful the consumer is in controlling product design. Don't just sit there. Drive!


The earliest beginnings of self powered road vehicle or Automobiles can be traced back to 1769. This was when Nicolas Joseph Cugnot built a steam powered road vehicle in France. In the beginning, the cost of owning a horseless carriage was reserved for the rich. Most people of the times thought the impracticality of the vehicles would keep it from ever being a viable source of transportation. The notion automobiles were impractical slowly disappeared with the invention of the internal combustion engine in the early 1800's.

Inventors were setting out to perfect the internal combustion engine, and build vehicles in which to put them in.

In September of 1893, Charles and Frank Duryea successfully tested their first automobile. He later founded the Duryea Wagon Company; which was the first company to build and sell gasoline powered vehicles. In 1895 it was stated that everyone would soon have to accept the automobile.

Henry Ford was the first to revolutionize the way automobiles were built and sold. He incorporated the Ford Motor Company in 1903, and by 1908 Henry Ford was offering the Model T for sale at $950. He continued to improve the Model T and developed the assembly line building process. With the invention of the assembly line Ford shortened the time to build a complete vehicle down to 93 minutes. With...