For many people, a car is simply a tool that gets them from point A to point B as safely as possible and in as little time as possible (and is legal). They do not consider their vehicle to be any different from the iron they use to press their clothes or the hair dryer in their bathroom.
For others, however, the automotive industry and the companies that have made their mark on it are something special. They are actual world-changers that have made our lives what they are today and that are showing no signs of slowing down.
Today, we will be looking at those companies whose practices and products have made our world what it is today.
Honestly, there was no way to start our list with any company other than Mercedes-Benz. The reason is a simple one – they were responsible for the first automobile to drive on the streets (of Mannheim, Germany). There are other inventions that claim to be the first car, but the fact is that the Benz Patent-Motorwagen was the first vehicle designed to use an internal combustion engine.
Over the years, Mercedes-Benz shaped much of the car as we knew and know it today, coming out with inventions such as honeycomb radiator, carburetor, diesel-powered car, crumple zone, ABS system, ESP brake assist and more.
In other words, we would probably still have cars today, but it’s a mystery what they would look like if not for Mercedes-Benz.
Ford has definitely been one of the more impactful automotive companies in the history, although they have mostly done paradigm-shifting things for the society as a whole than strictly speaking car-related (Ford is responsible for quite a few auto innovations, nonetheless).
Namely, Henry Ford’s moving assembly line has changed the face of the planet through its innovations in the production process. The effects of his moving assembly line go well beyond just the automotive industry, influencing the 20th century as much as any other invention. Thanks to this more efficient production process, Ford brought the car to the masses with Model T.
The Ford company even helped Soviet Union start on its path towards industrialization with the joint Soviet-Ford endeavor that would become USSR’s first automotive factory called GAZ in today’s Nizhny Novgorod.
Since this is Car Audio Plus’ blog, we simply have to include one of the most impactful car electronics and audio companies in history – Alpine. Alpine is a Japanese company that has been transforming the way our cards sound on the inside for decades and even though many people do not think twice about it, it has truly changed our daily car trips for good.
Over the years, besides manufacturing some of the finest products in its niche, Alpine has also come out with a number of firsts. For example, they gave us the world’s first navigation system in 1981 when they built one for Honda. They also introduced us to the first ever remove control auto security systems in 1983. In 2004, they were the first to recognize iPod as the future of music consumption and they were the first to manufacture components that can interact with the Apple’s product.
Castrol is the world’s leading engine oil manufacturer and it has been one for more than a century. Initially, the company manufactured oils for heavy machinery and trains, but the founder soon realized that the future lies in cars and airplanes.
Over the years, they kept their head down and provided the automotive industry with the oils their cars needed to run without breaking down. Castrol also stayed involved in other industries, providing oil for Queen Elizabeth II, the world’s largest ocean-going passenger liner which was launched in the late 1960s.
The reason we include Castrol in this article is the quiet innovativeness that they bring to the work they do and also because they created a special oil for Curiosity, NASA’s Mars rover.
And that is just so cool.
We definitely live in an age of technology and automotive industry is a big part of it. Like always, the automotive industry is on the very forefront of developing technologies, finding new ways to incorporate new tech in the future solutions and concepts.
While some of these concepts are talked about pretty much everywhere you turn such as self-driving vehicles for example, there are also quite a few new technologies that are just as interesting but that somehow fly under the radar for most people. And that is what we’re interested in today.
Airbags on the Outside
Airbags have long become an integral part of the passive safety in our cars. Depending on the model of your car and the year it was manufactured, it will feature more or less airbags on the inside of the car, minimizing the risks of injury and doing their best to keep everyone alive and in one piece. More recently, however, we are hearing about airbags that will deploy on the outside of the car, or more precisely underneath it.
This is a concept Mercedes and some other manufacturers are tinkering with, putting airbags underneath the car; airbags that would deploy when sensors realize impact is imminent. The airbags are envisioned to double the stopping power thanks to the friction coating on the bottom side. In addition to this, these airbags would lift the car for about 3 inches, countering the dipping motion and improving the effectiveness of bumpers indirectly.
The concept of smart highways is another exciting idea that was popular for a brief moment when that section of a highway in the Netherlands was first opened, but since then, people have stopped talking about, for some reason. At the time, it was the coolest thing ever, a highway with glow-in-the-dark road markings that are solar-powered and provide increased visibility.
In future, smart highways have the potential to be much more. For instance, they could provide additional information for the drivers, such as information on upcoming turns and conditions on the road, giving warnings in cases of accidents or traffic jams. The potential uses are almost endless and while this is something that will probably require years, if not decades, it is definitely interesting.
For some reason, no one likes talking about tires. People do not give them any attention, when in reality; some of the most important technological advances are being made in the car tire industry. For instance, a couple of manufacturers such as Hankook and Bridgestone are working on puncture-resistant airless tires.
On the other hand, manufacturers like Michelin and Yokohama are working on tires that will improve fuel consumption of cars they are mounted on, doing good for the environment and our wallets alike. Goodyear is, for instance, working on two concepts, one for electric cars and other for improving performance, safety and fuel economy. In short, a lot is going on and you should get involved. This particular blog is a great starting point.
Vehicle Tracking and Marketing
Not everything that awaits us in the future is good, of course. For instance, there is talk that insurance companies and possibly governments might start charging fees depending on miles covered by a specific vehicle. It is all very bureaucratic and therefore probably part of our future.
It is also very, very possible that advertisements and marketing will also enter out car in the next few years. It comes with the territory when we are talking cars that will be online at all times. It is only a matter of time before a McDonald’s ad lights up your HUD. Let’s just hope it is not too invasive.
Here at UK Fuel Cards we’re celebrating the birthday of one of the most beloved and successful brands of the century – that’s right, Aston Martin is 100 years old this year. The British sports car firm has for years been an aspiration, a fantasy and a hobby, which is why it seemed only fitting to put together a list of five reasons why we love Aston Martin. In no particular order…
The Aston Martin DB2/4 (1953) - Believe it or not, Aston Martin has been making cars for forty years before the DB2/4 appeared in 1953. We know that there are countless super cars that preceded the DB2/4, but its beautiful curves, long bonnet and, of course, its iconic grille shape achieved aesthetic perfection – and not only in our eyes, as this look was then on adopted in all subsequent models. A legacy was born.
The Aston Martin DBR1 (1956) - A mere three years later, the unforgettable DBR1 merged – Aston Martin had no intention to stick to only making desirable grand tourers like the DB2/4. This incredible race car went on to win the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race in 1959 – few have been able to compare to a vehicle that could take on the most demanding of circuits as well as turn heads with its beauty.
The Aston Martin DB5 (1963) - The release of the DB5 in 1963 in Aston Martin’s 50th year was their finest hour. Fast, pretty, filled with toys – this breathtaking vehicle was born to become an icon, with or without the help of a certain British agent. When Goldfinger was released in ‘64, the DB5 became immortalised. It still remains our dream car.
The Aston Martin DB7 (1994) - We’ll ignore the 80s (who remembers the 80s anyway?), and head straight to the 90s, when Ford took the reins and allowed the company to eventually produce the magnificent DB7. During this time, cars were boxy, angular and unappealing – all except one, that is. The DB7 boasted those infamous curves, set light with a ferocious elegance. Almost 20 years on, we’re still in love with this car, and with more than 7,000 manufactured over ten years of production, our Fuel Card customers have got more chance of encountering a DB& on the road than any other Aston.
The Aston Martin CC 100 (2013) - As Lamborghini brought out the Veveno to celebrate their 50th birthday, Aston Martin also stuck to what they know best and produced a car to sum up their 100 years of motoring. Unsurprisingly, the CC100 is a graceful, beautiful, track-inspired concept with no roof, panelless doors and a top speed of 180mph. Bliss.
These are our top five – can you add to the list? Whether or not you are lucky enough to drive your own Aston Martin, you and your fleet can at least experience some special Bond-worthy treatment with our competitive wholesale fuel prices and security features, courtesy of our flexible fuel cards.