Home Car News Most Significant Automotive Innovations of the Past Century
Car News

Most Significant Automotive Innovations of the Past Century

automotive innovations

The automobile industry has witnessed tremendous evolution since its inception, as seen from the perfection of conveyor belt manufacturing, a concept introduced by Ford. However, there are even more significant automotive innovations from the past century worth learning about. Discover the most impactful automotive breakthroughs of the last 100 years!

Automatic Transmission

The automatic transmission, an innovation that has significantly transformed the driving experience, came into existence in the 1930s and was established as the industry standard by the mid-1970s. This inventive system, which automatically changes the gear ratios as a vehicle moves, eliminates the need for drivers to manually shift gears. The automatic transmission made driving more accessible and less physically demanding, particularly for drivers who found managing clutch coordination challenging or residents who frequently had to navigate hilly, traffic-filled commutes (such as motorists in San Fransico). This transformative development not only enhanced the comfort and ease of driving but also opened up the world of motoring to a broader demographic, thereby profoundly impacting personal mobility.

Seat Belts and Air Bags

Seat belts, originally conceived in the 19th century for use in strollers and horse-drawn carriages, underwent a revolutionary transformation in the mid-20th century. It was Volvo’s engineer, Nils Bohlin, who invented the three-point seat belt in 1959 that we are familiar with today. This innovation, which Volvo generously decided not to patent in the interest of global safety, has since become a standard feature in all vehicles. The ethos behind this decision was a testament to Volvo’s commitment to prioritizing human life and safety over corporate profit.

Airbags, on the other hand, originated in the early 1950s, when John W. Hetrick, inspired by a near-accident, received a patent for a safety cushion assembly for automotive vehicles. However, it was not until the 1970s that airbags started appearing in commercial vehicles, thanks to the efforts of Allen K. Breed. Breed developed a crucial component—the ball-in-tube sensor for crash detection, which led to the first commercial passenger airbag system. The invention of airbags and their subsequent developments epitomize an industry-wide dedication to enhancing vehicle safety and reducing the devastating impact of road accidents.

Modular Car Platforms

Modular car platforms, which originated in the 1960s, revolutionized the automobile industry by standardizing the design and assembly of all vehicle sub-systems. This led to cost reduction and improved efficiency. The platforms also offered flexibility, accommodating different types of drivetrains, including gasoline, hybrid, and electric. As the world shifted toward sustainable transportation, the creation of electric modular platforms marked a significant milestone in the automotive industry’s evolution, reducing the number of required platforms and facilitating the development of core platforms usable across different models and brands. Modular car platforms like the VW MQB continue to highlight the durability and ingenuity of this specific innovation.

These three significant automotive innovations prove just how far cars have come in the past century. Modern vehicles are packed with helpful and beneficial features and amenities, largely thanks to these innovations of the past!


Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

4 Misconceptions About Luxury Cars You Should Know

Many people see luxury cars in a bad light, but taking the...

Why the Detroit Series 60 Engine Is So Popular

Detroit Diesel is one of the top diesel manufacturers in the United...

The Rarest and Most Interesting Jeep Vehicles Ever Produced

Did you know the Jeep Wrangler YJ Rio Grande was only released...

Top Reasons To Own a BMW as Your Next Car

Owning a BMW is definitely a great idea if you care about...