Although there were earlier efforts at creating motorised vehicles, the birth of the modern automobile is generally traced back to 1885. This was the year that inventor Karl Benz produced the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. The German engineer went on to merge his company with Daimler, and Mercedes-Benz was born in 1926. Much has changed since those days, and there’s been many turning points which have redefined the motor industry.
Although the cost of buying a car came down during the first part of the 20th century thanks to improved manufacturing and production techniques, Mercedes-Benz remained a luxury brand in its early days. The 770 model was hugely popular from 1930 onwards, and was given an overhaul in 1938. Meanwhile in 1936, the Mercedes-Benz 260 D became the world’s first diesel production car.
Nowadays we take in-car technology and entertainment for granted. From playing music and movies to satellite navigation systems, modern cars are brimming with the latest gadgets. This all stems back to when the first car radio was installed in 1933, while six years later the first air conditioning system was produced, allowing drivers to enjoy their journeys in greater comfort.
Car safety is another thing we take for granted, and we expect our cars to adhere to all the latest checks and vigorous testing. Mercedes-Benz has made key contributions to safety over several decades, and first offered customers three-point seat belts in 1968, helping to save countless lives in the process. In 1980, Mercedes became the world’s first manufacturer to install front airbags in standard-production cars.
Electric past and electric future
While we may think of electric cars as a modern development, they were originally popular at the end of the 19th century and in the early part of the 20th century. Advances in internal combustion engines and the availability of cheaper petrol meant that they ended up taking a back seat. Since the turn of the millennium however, there has been a huge revival in electric cars, as manufacturers look to address environmental issues.
Models such as the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive meant that it was no longer just the humble milk float that relied on electric power, and you can still drive green and clean in serious style. The renaissance of the electric car was made possible by improved batteries, along with advances in energy management and clever hybrid engines that allow drivers to travel long distances using hardy any fuel.
Throw in the financial benefits of going electric on top of the environmental credentials, and the popularity of electric cars is ever increasing. With a great range of luxury models and electric sports cars available, hybrid and fully electric cars look set to lead the future of the motor industry.
One thing that’s already very much in the present is how intuitive cars are now - independent of their drivers. Plenty of cars have in-built tech such as lane-assist features, where you’ll get a warning if you’re straying out of your lane on the motorway. You can even buy cars that will park up for you, taking away the pressure of squeezing into a tight space.
Other recent developments include the use of hydrogen power in cars, although technology like this has a long way to go before it could be considered viable to most drivers. Despite this, it can only be a good thing that leading carmakers like Mercedes are working hard to produce environmentally-friendly options for their customers.