An automobile is a motorized vehicle, usually with four wheels and usually containing two or more passengers. Although most definitions of the word car include four or more wheels, the term “automobile” does not include motorcycles, which are vehicles that have no more than three wheels.
The first automobile was created in Germany in the late 1800s. In 1886, Carl Benz began producing automobiles for commercial sale. Initially, automobiles were powered by a gasoline engine. After that, the technology developed and modern automobiles have evolved to be complex technical systems, with thousands of component parts. Modern cars also use emission-control systems and other advanced technologies.
The automobile industry has played an important role in the development of modern society. It helped to improve the standard of living and provide better medical care and schools in rural America. As more people became more prosperous, they began to use motor vehicles more frequently.
By the turn of the twentieth century, the American automobile industry had become dominant. Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler were the three largest automobile manufacturers in the world. They became known as the “Big Three” of the auto industry, and they represented about 80 percent of the output of the industry.
During the First World War, the automobile industry made crucial contributions to military production. Manufacturers produced 75 essential military items, a total of $29 billion. The automobile industry also became a key consumer of other industrial products. Aside from automobiles, it was also one of the biggest users of steel and petroleum.
The automobile industry provided one out of every six jobs in the United States in 1982. It also was responsible for the rapid construction of streets and highways. This was the largest public works program in history.
The growth of the automobile industry in the United States also helped to increase the per capita income of Americans. With cheap raw materials and mechanized industrial processes, the cost of an automobile dropped. Moreover, the American manufacturing tradition made cars affordable for middle class families. Consequently, many households owned more than one motor vehicle.
The rise of the automobile revolutionized the way American citizens lived. The new system of transportation brought more urban amenities to rural America, and it freed homemakers from the narrow confines of their homes.
At the same time, it changed the architecture of the typical American dwelling. Besides transportation, the automobile also stimulated outdoor recreation. Eventually, the automobile industry led to the emergence of a global market. Today, the worldwide passenger car industry accounts for roughly 1.4 billion passenger vehicles. Almost half of these are manufactured in the United States.
Despite the advances of the automobile, there were still problems with its safety and aesthetics. Most of the defects were related to safety. Automobiles had a reputation for being aesthetically unattractive, and styling over economy was often prioritized over safety.
When the automobile industry reached the peak of its success in the 1980s, it became a global phenomenon. The United States had more income per person than Europe, and the per capita income was higher. Also, the American manufacturing tradition made automobiles more affordable, resulting in more demand for the products.