The History of Auto Shipping

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The History of Auto Shipping

The History of Auto Shipping

When browsing around for auto transportation quotes, it may prove useful to know some of the industry’s history. For this, we must go back to the invention of the automobile.

The First Automobile

In 1771, Nicholas Cugnot built the first recorded automobile, a vehicle powered by steam, for France’s War Minister. However, due to its 2.3 mph speed and difficulty in operating it, the vehicle did not enter mass production.

In 1873, more than a hundred years later, another inventor from France by the name of Amedee Bollee created a steam car with a carrying capacity of 12 passengers. Unfortunately, this creation was also impractical, because buggies and horses were simply faster.

The History of Auto Shipping

In the 1900’s, the Americans and Germans tried their hands at this problem with the help of gasoline. Using great ingenuity, the Germans created the first motor car, or a car powered by gasoline. The automobile could move at a speed of 10 mph, had a transmission with 4 speeds, and a gas engine with 2 cylinders.

However, it was America that created the first line of mass produced cars: Ransom Olds’ 1901 Oldsmobile. Furthermore, it was the American Henry Ford who created the first assembly line for mass producing an automobile, the Model T.

Events Which Led to the Formation of the Auto Shipping Industry

In 1930, millions of automobiles had already been created. The transportation industry had become increasingly popular. Before this rise, to transport clothing, fuel, food, or other goods, people would use ships, planes, or railways. However, when vehicles started being produced in mass, they were soon added to the list. Many found rail transportation to be inefficient, expensive, and slow, so they soon turned to automobiles for a solution.


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The first auto transportation came in the form of semi-trucks, used to carry cars up until the beginning of the 1960s. Railroads were also used during the 40s-50s to transport automobiles in boxcars. Finally, the first carrier rack for automobiles was invented by the Germans. It was capable of carrying up to 10 automobiles.

Later, Canadian engineers created bi-level carriers, which had 2 closed floors and resembled the boxcar. Auto transport by train has also prevailed the test of time and is still used today, though on fewer occasions.

In the 1980s, the auto transport industry expanded greatly, and it’s still growing steadily. This was a direct result of the railway option being largely replaced by car trailers and trucks. For overseas auto transportation, air and especially sea freight are the most used methods.

The Auto Shipping Industry Today

Using modern transit technology, today’s auto shipping industry offers hassle free auto transport, door to door shipping, custom made services, insurance coverage, and even the ability to locate and verify the status of your automobile’s transportation en route.

Modern day technology gives us the option of choosing between enclosed and open auto carriers, so you can even take into consideration the weather and other factors when moving your car. You can now benefit from custom services, so you may safely transport your family’s car as well as your company’s classic / luxury vehicles.

Transportation is handled by experienced haulers, and many companies have insurance policies to protect your interests during the move. Thanks to hassle free auto transportation, the delivery details are handled entirely by the auto shipping company.

Carriers take upon themselves most of the responsibility of delivering your automobile safely, and you may even be allowed to inspect it during transit.

Thanks to the internet, you can find a company more easily by visiting their websites. You can also do a background check on it or shop around for quotes.

Joe Webster

Written by Joe Webster

Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with with a Bachelor of Business Marketing.

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood.

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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