Nowadays, students of innovation prefer the term co-evolution, emphasizing the parallel and mutually dependent development of technology and society. This acknowledges the importance of contingency and of the impact of the past upon the present, the very reason why The Evolution of Automotive Technology: A Handbook looks at car technology from a long-term perspective.
Often we will conclude that the innovation was in the (re)arrangement of existing technologies.
Since its beginnings, car manufacturers have brought a total of 1 billion automobiles to the market. We are currently witnessing an explosion toward the second billion.
Looking back, we can see this history evolve through five distinctive phases:
- Emergence (1880–1917)
- Persistence (1917–1940)
- Exuberance (1945–1973)
- Doom (1973–2000)
- Confusion (2001–present)
The Evolution of Automotive Technology: A Handbook helps us understand how these phases impacted society and, in turn, shows us how car technology was influenced by car users themselves.