In February of 1900, Milton Hershey became the first to use an automobile to advertise by painting his Lancaster, PA Hershey brand on a vehicle. In 1926, vinyl chloride was accidentally discovered by the Goodrich Corporation and by the late 1950’s, it was innovated to be used for graphic applications. At first, only large clients like the U.S. Air Force could afford to use self-adhesive vinyl graphics, but by the 1980’s vinyl production costs and die-cutting technology had become affordable enough for small businesses to be able to letter their vehicles without using paint.
By the early 1990’s, colorful die-cut vinyl had become the primary method of marking vehicles with lettering and logos for big businesses, while paint remained king for body shops and car luxury car enthusiasts. Fast forward 10 years, new printing technologies emerged and allowed for cheaper printing of vinyl sheets for sign and graphic companies to brand fleets of company vehicles. Since then, large suppliers of vinyl such as 3M, Avery, Orafol, Arlon, KPMF have been continuously innovating the material to be better, cheaper, and more useful for a wide range of applications.