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The Benz Patent-Motorwagen (or motorcar), built in 1886, is widely regarded as the first automobile, that is, a vehicle designed to be propelled by a motor. It is important to note, however, that the first automobile fatality on record occurred in 1869, during the preceding era of steam-powered cars. Road to China's West - 14th Chengdu Motor Show, September 16th-25th, 2011.