It is estimated that the first automobile design was steam-powered and most likely built in China around 1672 by Ferdinand Verbiest. The vehicle was a 65 cm-long toy for the Chinese Emperor that was for display purposes since it could not carry a driver or passenger.
Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot received credit for building the first mechanical vehicle in the form of a steam-powered tricycle in 1769. However, his steam engine ran into a couple of problems with maintaining water supply and steam pressure.
Richard Trevithick built a road locomotive in 1801, which is what some believe is the first moving demonstration of a steam-powered vehicle.
While Nicéphore Niépce and his brother Claude were most likely the creators of the first internal combustion engine, Karl Benz is credited as the modern automobile inventor.
Benz was granted a patent in 1879 for an engine he had designed the year before. He built his first Motorwagen in 1885 in Germany, and began the promotion of his vehicle in 1886.
When the first four-wheeler vehicle of his was introduced, about 25 Benz vehicles were sold between 1888 and 1893.
The first road trip by car was taken by Benz’s wife Bertha Benz in August 1888, which proved the road-reliability of the vehicle’s invention.
Mass production of vehicles came to be by the idea of Ransom Olds in 1902. He had an Oldsmobile factory in Michigan that relied on assembly lines of mass production and interchangeable parts. Henry Ford expanded this concept in 1914, and his cars were being finished in each step in 15 minutes.
Today the automobile is one of the most popular inventions, and many consider it to be a necessity.