The evolution of the car

November 7, 2022

We are entering a new era in the evolution of the car, one defined by increasing focus on manufacturing and buying sustainable vehicles with lower environmental impacts. We see START playing a vital role in this new era by offering both car buyers and manufacturers unprecedented transparency and accountability across the manufacturing supply chain.

Before we look ahead to how START has the potential to contribute to this new era of sustainability, it’s worth looking back at some key stops on the road that led us from petrol-powered cars to electric vehicles.

The invention of petrol-powered cars

The history of the car is not necessarily a straight line, with innovations and inventions stretching back as far as the 1600s. However, it’s agreed that the first recognisable car was the Benz Patent-Motorwagon developed by Carl Benz in 18863.

Despite the fact that it had three wheels and could transport passengers at a top speed of about 16km/h, the Benz Patent-Motorwagon powered by a 4-stroke petrol engine is recognised as the first car. It was put into serial production and made available to the public in the same year it was released.

Fortunately, the options for consumers have increased substantially since then.

Car manufacturing picks up the pace

Once again, there are competing innovations that serve as important markers. The first large-scale car production line was started in 1901 by the Olds Motor Vehicle Company, but this achievement was quickly overshadowed by a rival manufacturer.

Ford Motor Company’s introduction of the world’s first moving assembly line for cars in 1913 gave the car industry a turbo-boost and set the standard for production efficiency that would become an industry standard.

The improved efficiency meant that, for the first time, cars became widely affordable for middle-class consumers.

Car safety standards

While there are several notable innovations in car safety, including the introduction of hydraulic brakes in 1922, safety glass as standard in 1930 and the invention of the 3-point seatbelt in 1958, probably the most important milestone in this area was the establishment of the World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations in the same year.

The WP.29, as it’s known, was responsible for establishing a number of global standards for ‘wheeled vehicles’, including industry standards that would facilitate the widespread adoption of important safety measures such as seatbelts (that had previously been included only at the discretion of individual car manufacturers).

The W.29 is also responsible for regulating the environmental compatibility of cars being produced, including standards around fuel consumption, emissions and electric vehicles4.

Relooking fuel and sustainable vehicles

While alternative-fuel technology has developed alongside petrol-powered cars since their inception, the development of viable hybrid and fully electric vehicles has heralded a new era for car manufacturers and consumers focusing on reducing carbon emissions.

The launch of the Toyota Prius as the first mass-produced hybrid in 1997 and the Tesla Roadster as the first fully battery-powered highway-legal vehicle in 2008 stand as important signposts on the road to sustainability.

New technology enters the race

Self-driving cars may get the most attention when it comes to the impact of new technology, but the reality is that the fourth industrial revolution technology has been a part of the car manufacturing process for much longer than many people realise.

Innovations such as robotic assembly lines, safety and design enhancements made with the help of machine-learning, and smart driver monitoring systems are just a few examples of how new technology has been used to make cars cheaper, safer and more suited to our needs.

With new materials such as aluminium, lithium, and copper increasingly being used to manufacture efficient, lightweight electric vehicles1, the car industry is set to harness the power of yet another emerging technology—using blockchain technology to record to securely store and track sustainability and ESG data across the manufacturing supply chain.

It’s clear that sustainability is an increasingly important factor being considered when buying a new car. START, a revolutionary platform using blockchain technology to empower the car industry and car buyers to make sustainable choices, will help address this sustainability outlook.

START functions by providing transparency and traceability across the vehicle supply chain, storing data and giving producers and, in the future, consumers a means of tracking, verifying and visualising sustainability metrics across 14 key ESG criteria under our 3 pillars of Planet, People, and Progress, beginning with the sourcing of sustainable materials.

3x growth

A recent industry report indicated a 3x growth in electric vehicle sales over the last 2 years and cited environmental concerns as the most common motivating factor for consumers making this choice2.

Source: EY Mobility Consumer Index 2022 Study

With the introduction of this ground-breaking new platform, we envision the START logo being added to new vehicles as a means to provide quick and clear assurance to consumers that the manufacturing materials used adhere to progressive sustainability metrics helping buyers make responsible choices from the outset when purchasing a new vehicle.

Are you eager to help car buyers make more responsible choices? Do your part to raise awareness of START by sharing this article.

If you’re a car manufacturer, you can contact us here to learn more about how START can help your business, or to request a demo.

Read the rest of our series: learn how to be a responsible car buyer and find out what you need to know about switching to an electric car.


1 Automotive World Ltd. 2022. ‘Survey Reveals Aluminum Remains Fastest Growing Automotive Material.

2 Batra, G., Goel, A., Khatri, A. & Samant, M. 2022. ‘EY Mobility Consumer Index 2022 Study.’

3 Mercedes-Benz Group. 2022. ‘1885–1886: The First Automobile.

4 UNECE. 2022. ‘Vehicle Regulations.

(All accessed: 28 September 2022)