The automobile industry in large has come a long way from its early inception way back in the late 1800s. A slew of innovations, technology advancement, consumer’s proclivity, government’s regulations, economy and environmental preferences has shaped the existence of mobility altogether. No matter how advanced the automobiles have progressed in the real-world today, roots were dug deep in 1886, when the legendary German inventor Carl Benz applied for a patent for his “vehicle powered by a gas engine.” The patent number was ‘37435’. The patent was marked as a birth certificate of the automobile, and since then, January 29 has been celebrated as World Automobile Day.

The first-ever gasoline engine developed by Carl Benz was a single-cylinder, 2-stroke unit. According to reports from the Daimler group, Benz had decent commercial success with this engine, which ran for the first time on New Year’s Eve of 1879. After laying an official foundation for automobiles in 1879, Benz created a two-seater car named Motorwagen. The Benz Patent Motorwagen had its first public drive on July 3, 1886, on the Ringstrasse in Mannheim, widely regarded as the world’s first production car manufactured by Rheinische Gasmotorenfabrik Ben & Cie (today known as Mercedes-Benz).

The vehicle featured a tubular steel frame and a single-cylinder four-stroke engine installed horizontally at the rear. The engine output was just 0.73bhp at an engine speed of 400 rpm from a 950cc engine, which is comparatively very underpowered compared to the power output from the vehicles of today’s generation. But in terms of equipment and technology on offer, the car featured an automatic intake slider, a controlled exhaust valve, high-voltage electrical vibrator ignition with a spark plug, and water siphon evaporation cooling. The car also had a differential and three wire-spoked wheels.

Benz designed the vehicle with rear-wheel drive. The car was steered through the front wheel, suspended in an unsprung fork and could be steered by a toothed rack connected with a crank. And yes, there was no provision to reverse the car, nor did it have a foot brake; instead, the brakes were applied by the hand leaver acting on the countershaft belt pulley. Talking about efficiency, to cover a distance of 100 kilometers, the Motorwagen needed about ten-litres of gasoline. These features and capabilities made the Benz-Patent Motorwagen a significant step towards revolutionizing mobility.

As we mark the 137th World Automotive day, we celebrate the technological advancement of the automobile industry. The ICE cars of today’s era are robust, safe, efficient and advanced. The dependency on cars has significantly increased that they have become an integral part of human life, especially for an automotive enthusiast like us.