The cars and trucks that we drive today are actually part of an evolutionary process.
No one person can be credited with the invention of the automobile as we know it. The very first self-propelled road vehicle was invented by Nicolas Joseph Cugnot (1725-1804) in France.
The purpose of Mr. Cugnot’s invention was not a family vehicle intended for weekend road trips. It was a military tractor, and it didn’t run on gasoline. It was propelled by a steam engine.
It is estimated that more than 100,000 patents have been issued that led to the cars and trucks that we drive today, and many of those patents are related to the fuel used to propel them. Steam was the first propellant, so you might say that water was the first fuel.
As a side note, Cugnot was also the first person ever involved in a car accident. He drove one of his vehicles into a stone wall in 1771.
There were lots of problems with steam engines. They were big, and they were expensive, and they were loud. So Robert Anderson of Scotland invented the first electric carriage.
Electric cars used rechargeable batteries that powered a small electric motor, but there were problems with electricity as fuel as well. The vehicles were heavy, slow, and expensive, and they had to be stopped frequently to recharge the batteries. But electricity was the second fuel used to propel road vehicles.
The internal combustion engine that propels vehicles using refined fossil fuel was and is an evolutionary process. The first design was in 1680, and the latest modifications were this year.
There will be more modifications next year. So gasoline was the third fuel used to propel vehicles, but air-polluting emissions are a problem.
Today, experiments are going on all over the world to find another fuel that will propel our cars and trucks. Electricity has been revived, hydrogen is being tested, and even sunlight is being considered. Who knows what the next fuel will be?