*** German automotive sector early years

German Automotive Sector: Early Years (1885-1914)

German automobile imports
Figure 1.--Here Karl Benz is demonsrating his 1885 invention, the first motor car to an admiruing crowd in the 1920s. He not Ford was the father of the car and motor vehicle industry

Some of earliest wok on the automobile occurred in Germany. The autmobile combined with the internal combution engine was a German invention. The automobile was invented by Carl Friedrich Benz (1844-1929), an engine designer and automotive engineer. His Benz Motorcar is regarded as the first practical modern automobile (1885). It was the first car put into serial production. He received a patent for the motorcar (1886). Benz is seen as both 'the father of the car' as well as the 'father of the automobile industry'. Americans tend to see Henry Ford as the firstv umprtant automobile industrialist. Benz has aa range of problemns. He had trouble getting anyone interested in his invention. So his wife Betha helped him get it off the ground. Nicolaus Otto developed a four-stroke internal combustion engine (late 1870s). Benz used it to power a coach (1887). This was the first automobile. Benz & Cie. was based in Mannheim and had an early lead. It was the world's first automobile plant and largest in the world at the time. its day. Another early German company was Daimler Motoren famous for the first Merrcedes, a griund breaking car (1901). The Mercedes was 35 HP car designed in 1901 by Wilhelm Maybach and Paul Daimler, for Emil Jellinek a Jewish entrepreneur. It was named after Jellinek' dasughter. Benz and Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft merged to form Daimler-Benz (1926). After seizing control of Germany, there was nothing Hitler liked better than tooling around the Reich in a open Mercedes. We susoect he did not know that the big car he so admired was naned after a Jewish girl. The German companies that began making automobiles made fine vehicles, high-end beautifully crafted cars madfe by highly skilled craftsmen. This made German cars expensive and limited oriduction to rather small numbers. Merceds-Benz and iother German manufacturers had no interest in producung a low-cost car. This was where Henry Ford stepped in tio theautomobile story. He first designed a very basic, low cost car--the Model-T. And next his assembly line was a very eficient manufacturing system. And it allowed Fird to use wirkers wuth little to know skills. This difference would fundamentally alter the automotive industry and 20th century history. German workers could not even dream of owning a car. American wirkers could. Germany was producing about 900 cars a year by the turn of the 20th century). Gottlieb Daimler was a major participant in the industry. They were, however, made in essentially craft shops in small numbers and were very expensive. The automobile was a play thing for the wealthy. More progress was made in France and Britain, but nothing along the lines of what occured in America, especilly begining with Henry Ford's Mode-T Ford (1907).


Reich, Simon. "Volkswagen and the State,.The Fruits of Fascism: Postwar Prosperity in Historical Perspective (New York: Cornell University, 1990).


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Created: 2:43 AM 5/2/2023
Last updated: 2:43 AM 5/2/2023