The Road to Sustainable Mobility

Discover the history of the automobile, from the first petrol car to the production of electric vehicles

1886: First Petrol Car

Carl Benz submitted the patent for his motor car, dubbed ‘the birth certificate of the automobile’. The car ran for the first time in 1879. 


1897: First Diesel Engine

Invented by Rudolf Diesel, the engine was the first to confirm the fuel consumption efficiency, with 26.8% of heat converted into effective power.


1889-1891: First Fully Electric Car

While Robert Anderson built the first crude electric car in 1832, it wasn’t until the late 1800s (1889-1891) that William Morrison developed the first successful electric car.


1900: First Hybrid Car

Ferdinand Porsche designed the world's first functional hybrid car, the ‘Semper Vivus’ - Latin for ‘always alive’.


1900-1912: The Electric Car’s Fleeting Success in the US

While the early 1900s saw two-thirds of vehicles on the road in the US being electric, this success was short-lived following Henry Ford’s unveiling of the Model T, which was easy to refuel and affordable.


1936: First Diesel Car

Mercedes-Benz unveils the world’s first series-produced diesel passenger car - 260 D - at the International Automobile and Motorcycle Show in Berlin.


1974-1997: Electric Car Production Ramps Up

60 years on from the short success of electric vehicles in the early 1900s, production began to ramp up towards the end of the century. 

  • General Motors in 1973 prototypes an urban electric car
  • CitiCar produced 2,000 electric cars between 1974 and 1977, ranging 50 to 60 miles
  • General Motors released the EV1 - which quickly gained a following - in 1996

1997: First Mass Production of a Hybrid Car

Toyota Motor Corporation releases the first worldwide mass-produced hybrid car - the Prius.


2006: The Beginning of Tesla

Founded three years prior, Tesla, in 2006, announced its plans to produce a luxury electric sports car with a range of more than 200 miles.


2010: First Commercially Available Plug-In Hybrid and Full Electric Car

General Motors releases the Chevy Volt, the first commercially available plug-in Hybrid. They were followed by Nissan’s All-Electric, zero tailpipe emissions vehicle, the Nissan LEAF.


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