10 things you didn’t know about cars

25 Feb 15

  1. Swedish maker Volvo invented the seatbelt over 50 years ago. But did you know they haven’t charged a single car maker for the use of the patent?

  2. Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) first appeared on volume-selling cars when Mercedes Benz introduced the technology on a flagship model in 1979. Today ABS is standard because since late 2011 stability control is legally required on all new passenger cars sold in Australia.

  3. In the early 1900s there were more electric cars on North American roads than there were petrol-powered cars. But limited battery range – and the emergence of oil and the internal combustion engine – saw petrol powered cars win the day. Well, for the first 100 years…

  4. By early 2010 there were more than 2.2 million petrol-electric hybrid cars on the road (after 12 years). The first mass-market electric-only vehicles began to arrive in showrooms in 2012.

  5. Electric cars won’t replace petrol-powered vehicles; experts predict about 5 per cent of new cars sold in Australia in 2020 will be electric only.

  6. The internal combustion engine (petrol and diesel) isn’t going anywhere. There are more than 800 million vehicles on the planet that rely on petrol or diesel. As oil supplies diminish and/or become more expensive, we will increasingly rely on bio-fuels, such as ethanol-blended unleaded petrol and bio-diesel.

  7. General Motors was the world’s biggest car maker for 77 years (1931 to 2007) but it was overtaken by Japanese maker Toyota soon after the Global Financial Crisis.

  8. Contrary to perception, the world’s biggest selling car is the Toyota Corolla. The first big seller was the Ford Model T from the early 1900s (16.5 million sales), overtaken by the Volkswagen Beetle (21.5 million, not including the modern version). The VW Golf, on its sixth generation, is up to 24 million sales, close behind the tally for the Ford F Series pick-up (25 million). The Corolla total? A cool 35 million, and still counting.

  9. Self driving vehicles may be hitting the roads sooner than you think. Companies like Google are busy testing prototypes for fully autonomous vehicles, but according to recent research, "incremental automation" (such as autopilot capability on the highway) is looking a lot more promising for the next three to five years.

  10. Australia invented the pick-up (what we call a ute), which went on to become North America’s biggest selling vehicle for almost half a century. The humble ute celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2014. According to Ford historians, in 1933 a Gippsland farmer's wife wrote a letter to Ford asking: “Can you build me a vehicle that we can go to church in on Sunday, and my husband can use it to take the pigs to market on Monday?” Lew Bandt, then a young designer at Ford in Geelong, came up with concept to combine a car with a load carrying vehicle. Eventually it was approved and went into production in 1934.

Do you know any interesting car facts not listed here? Share them in the comments below...