The French Connection...
There are two fundamental flaws in thinking that those were the first automobiles. First of all, if a so-called "car" has an excruciatingly low top speed or it has to constantly stop in order to be refueled with coal, wood or any other flammable material and its range is worse than that of a cart pulled by a donkey with arthritis, then it's not exactly an automobile, is it? I mean, where is the actual mobility of it?
Second of all, Cugnot wasn't even the first to build a self-propelled vehicle. That title is more fitting to a certain Ferdinand Verbiest, who was a Flemish Jesuit missionary in China during the Qing dynasty, in the seventeenth century. Apparently, he designed and built a steam-powered (here we go again) four-wheeled toy for the Chinese Kangxi Emperor as early as 1672.
I think most of you will agree with me, neither one of these vehicles - as innovative for their times as they were - could be considered a modern automobile. That title still remains in the Germans' backyard.
As a matter of fact, the same could be said about popularizing the automobile (the French didn't do it, ed). The first "mass-produced" French automobiles were made by Panhard et Levassor, in 1890, which is pretty early, right? Well, guess what kind of engines were they using? If you guessed "Daimler engines used under license", you win the prize. So the Germans actually helped the French popularize their own automobiles.
Mkay, how about automobile safety or practical solutions for reducing costs and adding reliability? Well, the safety bit is shared between Mercedes-Benz and Volvo. So, no matter how many models with five EuroNCAP stars Renault might have, they still didn't introduce half as many safety innovations during the years as the aforementioned two. Cost reduction and reliability? Well, the automotive "Just in Time" concept was pretty much introduced by Toyota, while one of the most reliable car brands in history is Honda.
How about automotive design avangarde? Umm, I guess almost everyone agrees that the "automotive design prize for the most beautiful cars in the world" belongs 100% on Italian turf, no matter how many convex and concave shapes Renault and Citroën have brought to the table in recent years.
So, what did the French brought for the automotive industry anyway? I'll tell you what, innovation. They have been the true revolutionaries of the car world ever since the 1930s, when models like the Peugeot 402 BL Éclipse Décapotable (world's first retractable hardtop convertible) or the Citroën Traction Avant were making history. Things didn't stop after World War Two, with again Citroën leading the way in the technology department and Renault following them.
Then, the 1970s happened, and France's number one automotive technology leader went bankrupt and got sold to one of its rivals. Goodbye never-before-seen cars, hello French numbness when it comes to groundbreaking models!
Anyway, long story short, this year's Frankfurt Motor Show was host to a tidal wave of green and/or fuel efficient vehicles, with the spotlight appearing to show mostly... French car makes. Renault brought not one but four electric concept cars that are almost ready for mass production, Peugeot brought the BB1 city car concept and a couple of hybrids, while Citroën unveiled a green concept with a design harking back to the innovative 2CV and an entire fleet of hybrids and electric cars soon-to-be on the road.
My question to you guys is, will the three French car makers lead the way into a new era of greener cars in the near future – hence their recent fleet of electric and hybrid concepts which look near production – or will they miss the train again and lose the game to the Germans and the Japanese?
comments written so far
-Automobile means just a thing that moves autonomously no matter how slowly or unreliably, so the steam powered ones were the first autos.
-Citroën DS has been voted in many polls as one of the most beautiful cars of all time.
-Honda isn't actually the most reliable brand there is, its just perceived that way (tho it does come in the top 3 in reliability)
- yes, I did some prior research, especially on the steam-powered vehicles; still, that doesn't change the fact that I put a lot of personal opinions in it, since it's an editorial after all;
- steam-powered vehicles were the first automobiles, correct, but not the first modern automobiles; the Daimler Motorwagen and the Benz Patent Motor Car were the first modern ones, not that very different in the way they work to a modern automobile;
- true, I also think that the DS is one of the most beautiful cars ever; but what is your opinion on the design of the Citroën AX, for example?
- Honda has been near the top of most reliability studies for quite a few years now; I think it's more than just a personal opinion to consider it the most reliable brand on the whole...
There exist certain cars that are just timeless and use the same original design for a good number of yrs. The 911, Beetle, Bentley series, Rolls Royce, Land Rover, and my current favourite the mkII Opel Kadett, ah I will be slapped around the mouth if I don't mention the VW Golf and GTi.
Who invent the car? it's not the question: the car history is one addition of innovations from all of the world, same thing with the aircraft, and French take a big part of the innovations...
next generation: the electric car and the engine wheel: first of them is the Lohner Porsche in 1900, current use on heavy and slow machines (hydraulic or electric) last innovation 2007: Michelin active Wheel...French...
As I can't find much positive to say about this piece, I will choose to believe that you can actually write much better than this effort, but were in a desperate hurry when you posted this.
Trop facile pour ?tre 100% vrai ...
Trop partial cet article pour ?tre constructif. Dommage.
Europe's first mass produced car was launched in 1919, not 1890, it was the Citroën Type A.
When it comes to safety, how about the DS, the first car to have disk brakes. That same car saved the life of Charles de Gaulle during a shootout, as the suspension affords such great roadholding that his car was driven to safety with TWO bullet ridden flat tyres.
These days the French have put other manufacturers in the shadow when it comes to safety. Renault was the first to have a range of cars all with 5 star EuroNCAP ratings, and the highest scoring car so far is the Citroën C6, with many new safety firsts. Look at the C4 and C5 also, with their unique fixed hub steering wheel, which ensures that the airbag is always in the perfect position for best protection.
If you want to read good articles check Wikipedia, or even other areas of this website, such as here http://www.autoevolution.com/newstag/Citroen/