Question Who invented the automobile?
This question does not have a straightforward answer. The history of the automobile is very rich and dates back to the 15th century when Leonardo da Vinci was creating designs and models for transport vehicles.
There are many different types of automobiles – steam, electric, and gasoline – as well as countless styles. Exactly who invented the automobile is a matter of opinion. Earlier accounts often gave credit to Karl Benz, from Germany, for creating the first true automobile in 1885/1886. However, our knowledge of the invention of the true automobile continues to evolve. The story of the invention of the automobile has become enriched with various other figures who played a part in its history.
Below is a selection of highlights in automobile history, compiled from information in Leonard Bruno’s book Science and Technology Firsts (Detroit, c1997) and ThoughtCo.’s History of the Automobile.
|Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot (1725-1804)||1769||STEAM / Built the first self propelled road vehicle (military tractor) for the French army: three wheeled, 2.5 mph.||France|
|Robert Anderson||1832-1839||ELECTRIC / Electric carriage.||Scotland|
|Karl Friedrich Benz (1844-1929)||1885/86||GASOLINE / Automobile powered by an internal combustion engine: three wheeled, four cycle, engine and chassis form a single unit.||Germany Patent DRP No. 37435|
|Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler (1834-1900) and Wilhelm Maybach (1846-1929)||1886||GASOLINE / First four wheeled, four-stroke engine- known as the “Cannstatt-Daimler.”||Germany|
|George Baldwin Selden (1846-1922)||1876/95||GASOLINE / Combined internal combustion engine with a carriage: patent no: 549,160 (1895). Never manufactured — Selden collected royalties.||United States|
|Charles Edgar Duryea (1862-1938) and his brother Frank (1870-1967)||1893||GASOLINE / First successful gas powered car: 4hp, two-stroke motor. The Duryea brothers set up first American car manufacturing company.||United States|
Published: 11/19/2019. Updated: 2/9/2020. Author: Science Reference Section, Library of Congress