Some key events in the history of cars include Karl Benz' invention of the first car in 1886 and Henry Ford's integration of the assembly line into car production in 1913. Although inventors developed electric cars in the 1800s, electric cars did not gain popularity until the early 2000s.
More key events in the history of cars include Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot's invention of the steam-powered, self-propelled vehicle in 1769. The vehicle had three wheels and traveled slightly more than two miles per hour. In 1885, Karl Benz used gasoline to create the first four-wheeled, modern automobile. In 1916, inventors added windshield wipers for visibility. In 1912, law enforcement invented and later installed the first electric traffic light in Cleveland, Ohio. Manufacturers first installed seat belts in automobiles in the 1950s and airbags followed in the 1970s.
Another key event in the history of cars was Henry Ford's intentional reduction in price points for automobiles. Ford's lowered his prices in an attempt to make automobiles popular and practical among the middle class. Because of Ford's vision and business model, automobiles became a necessity for the average American rather than a privilege for a small amount of wealthy people.
With the growing popularity of electric vehicles, the U.S. Congress authorized the Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 1976 to invest in electric vehicle engineering and development. In 1997, Toyota released the Prius, which became the first mass-marketed electric car. Another key event in the history of cars was the United States Recovery Act of the early 2000s, which invested millions of dollars in charging stations in an effort to make electric cars more practical.