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Karl Benz drives the first automobile, July 3, 1886

-July 03, 2014

On July 3, 1886, mechanical engineer Karl Benz drove the first automobile in Mannheim, Germany, reaching a top speed of 16 km/h (10 mph).

The automobile was powered by a 0.75-hp one-cylinder four-stroke gasoline engine. Benz’s engine was a refinement of the four-stroke engine designed by fellow German Nikolaus Otto, who had refined his design from Étienne Lenoir's two-stroke engine.

The horseless carriage had a water-cooled internal combustible engine, three wheels, tubular framework, tiller steering, and a buggy-like seat for two.

The vehicle further incorporated elements that would characterize the modern vehicle, including electrical ignition, differential, mechanical valves, carburetor, oil and grease cups for lubrication, and a braking system.

As is often the case, Benz was not the only person working on such a design. However, Benz patented his work first. As such, he patented all the processes that made the internal combustion engine feasible for use in an automobile. In 1879 his first engine patent was granted to him. In 1886 Benz was granted a patent for his first automobile.



Benz’s work eventually became the foundation of Mercedes-Benz, a well known luxury car brand still available today.

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For more moments in tech history, see this blog. EDN strives to be historically accurate with these postings. Should you see an error, please notify us.

Editor's note: This article was originally posted on July 3, 2012, and edited on July 3, 2014.

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