Ever since the first car rolled off the assembly line, if the hand manufacture could be called that, innovation was the name of the game in the car industry. For over 100 years, car companies invested enormous sums of money into finding out new solutions, technologies, materials, patents, and components. And because of that, we now have self-driving vehicles, infotainment systems and active safety that can brake to a stop or sense trouble, even before we are aware of it.
However, the path of innovation wasn’t easy. Putting new patents into production often proved difficult and customers didn’t always receive them well. Some patents never lived beyond one generation while others became regular production items for every car company afterward.
So here is a list of the 25 firsts from the car industry in a unique view of the automobile history and technological progress. Some of those items are standards in today’s cars, but you will be amazed when you see who invented them and when.
Airbags – General Motors
The idea of inflatable plastic bags to protect passengers near the front seats in case of collision isn’t new. They invented the concept in the ‘50s. But nobody managed to successfully design airbags that work until General Motors in the early ‘70s. They called it the “Air Cushion Restraint System.” It was an option on luxury, full-size Cadillacs, Chevrolets and Buicks in 1973. Later, it became known as the airbag system and today, it is an obligatory piece of equipment.