The first working steam-powered vehicle was designed by Ferdinand Verbeist, a Flemish member of a Jesuit mission in China around 1672. It was a toy for the Emperor that was unable to carry a driver or passenger.
Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot is generally credited with building the first full-scale, self-propelled mechanical vehicle in 1769; a steam-powered tricycle. He constructed two steam tractors for the French army as well.
In 1807, brothers Nicephore and Claude Niepce built the world’s first internal combustion engine and used it on a boat. At the same time, Swiss inventor Francois Isaac de Rivaz designed his own internal combustion engine and created a vehicle. Neither worked very well.
In November 1881, French inventor Gustave Trouvé demonstrated the first working (three-wheeled) car powered by electricity at the International Exposition of Electricity, Paris. Although several other German engineers (including Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach, and Siegfried Marcus) were working on the problem at about the same time, Karl Benz generally is acknowledged as the inventor of the modern car.
Large-scale, production-line manufacturing of affordable cars was started by Ransom Olds in 1901 at his Oldsmobile factory in Michigan. The concept was expanded by Henry Ford, beginning in 1913 with the world’s first moving assembly line for cars at the Highland Park Ford Plant. Ford’s cars came off the line every 15 minutes. It was so efficient that the coat of paint would create a bottleneck in the process. Only Japan Black paint would dry fast enough, forcing the company to remove the color options.
Ford’s advances in manufacturing made the car an item for the masses. Advertisements became more and more prevalent as competition gripped the market.