Alternators are used in modern automobiles to charge the battery and to power the electrical system when its engine is running.
Until the 1960s, automobiles used DC dynamo generators with commutators. With the availability of affordable silicon diode rectifiers, alternators were used instead. This was encouraged by the increasing electrical power required for cars in this period, with increasing loads from larger headlamps, electric wipers, heated rear windows and other accessories.
The modern type of vehicle alternators were first used by the military from WWII, to power radio equipment on specialist vehicles.[i] Post-war, other vehicles with high electrical demands, such as ambulances and radio taxis, could also be fitted with optional alternators.
Alternators were first introduced as standard equipment on a production car by the Chrysler Corporation on the Valiant in 1960, several years ahead of Ford