Automobiles, also known as motorcars, are vehicles that are designed to carry passengers. They may also be used to transport cargo. The vehicle may have two or four wheels. In the United States, they are typically built for passenger transportation. However, automobiles have evolved into more complex and technological systems.
Although it is difficult to pinpoint the first car, the concept of self-propelled transport originated in the late nineteenth century. In 1895, J. Frank and Charles Duryea were the first to sell an American-made gasoline car. Other early automobiles included Edward Butler’s three-wheeler with steerable front wheels, which ran on a horizontal single-cylinder gasoline engine.
Early in the twentieth century, the automobile was an important tool of social reform. It brought better medical care and schools to rural America. It also spawned new tourism-related industries.
The automobile industry became a major part of the American economy. By the mid-1920s, it ranked first in value of its products. Manufacturers employed scientists and engineers to develop the technology and equipment needed to produce the cars. They also improved the engines, body designs, and safety systems.
By the end of the 1920s, the automobile industry was the largest consumer of many industrial products. This increased demand for autos resulted in the construction of streets and highways. Construction of streets and highways peaked with the Interstate Highway Act of 1956.
As the need for automotive transportation grew, the automobile industry became a major supplier of steel. Automobile production increased in Japan and Europe after World War II.
While the automobile industry was booming in the United States, it had been stagnating in Europe. European automakers did not begin to use mass production techniques until the 1930s. Even so, the number of active manufacturers declined from 253 in 1908 to 44 by 1929.
As the automobile industry grew, manufacturers developed technologies for controlling air and water pollution. As a result, stricter emission standards were introduced in the United States and California. In 2006, emissions from new motorcycles in the United States were limited to 1.4 grams of hydrocarbons and nitric oxides per km.
Although the automobile industry was a catalyst for many changes in the twentieth century, it was particularly troubled during the 1920s. Vehicle quality declined to 24 defects per unit by the mid-1960s. Automakers lost the confidence that they could expand the market. Many automobiles had questionable aesthetics and were unsafe.
When the Second World War broke out, manufacturers sent a large amount of resources to the war effort. One-fifth of the nation’s war production was made by automobile manufacturers. A significant proportion of these items was essential military equipment.
By the end of the 1960s, the automobile industry had become a global industry. Approximately 70 million passenger cars are produced worldwide every year. Some 50% of all passenger cars are manufactured by foreign manufacturers.
During the First World War, the automobile industry played a key role in producing 75 essential military items. Despite its challenges, the automobile industry helped to break the rural isolation of the United States.