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Businessweek Archives

Mr. Obama: Meet Mr. Benz, not Mr. Ford.

When President Obama said in his February 24 speech, “And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it,” I shouted, FACT CHECKER! FACT CHECKER!

Dear Mr. President, historians agree that Karl Benz, the back half of the Daimler Benz company and the last name of those Mercedes vehicles running around, gets credit for inventing the automobile in Germany!

Henry Ford did a helluva job, too, of course. But he is really credited with perfecting the mass production techniques that elevated autombiles from being hand-built advenures in reliability to more affordable and reliable driving machines.

Mr. Benz created the Motorwagen, the first commercial automobile. It was powered by a four-stroke gasoline engine, which was his own design. He was granted a patent for his automobile which was dated January 29, 1886.

So much for Obama’s popularity in Germany.

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