Before Karl Benz build a gasoline powered automobile, the first internal combustion engine was powered by hydrogen.
Cars are useful to get around but they also cause pollution, hence the abundance of regulations and heightened interest in clean fuel. However, if you are dreaming of the good old simple times with beautiful horse carriages, don’t forget to picture all the manure they produced. By the end of the 19th century big cities like London in New York were drowning in manure, and we mean that quite literary. London’s delivery vehicles, cabs and busses were all drawn by horses, meaning the city had a horse population of 50,000. New York City’s 100,000 horses were producing 2.5 million pounds of manure, per day! Clean up was a problem and in 1894 a newspaper predicted that London streets would be buried under nine feet of horse poo in 50 years. This uncomfortable vision lead to quick advances in cars.
The earliest automobiles were powered by steam. The first attempts in the 17th century were kind of disastrous, but in the 19th century they were developed enough to be used. Steam cars actually reached their peak development in the 1930s. Karl Benz famously build a vehicle with a petroleum combustion engine in 1885. What you might not know, is that between the late 19th century and the early 20th century electric automobiles were the most advanced at the time. Their top speed was around 4mph, but until the BENZ automobile they were easier to ride and had the furthest reach.