The History of Automobiles
Automobiles are four-wheeled transport vehicles that carry people and things. They can be powered by electricity, gasoline or natural gas. There are many different designs and styles. Some are made for off-road use while others are designed to be driven on highways. The history of the automobile goes back several hundred years. The modern automobile was developed toward the end of the nineteenth century by men such as Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz and Nicolaus Otto. Early versions were run by steam, battery power or an internal combustion engine sparked by gunpowder.
These early cars were very expensive and only the wealthy could afford them. Henry Ford was the first to produce mass automobiles using assembly lines. This helped lower the price and make them available to the average American.
The automobile revolutionized transportation in America and other countries. It opened up new jobs in manufacturing, services and the development of better roads. It also caused the growth of other industries that provided supplies for the car such as petroleum and gasoline, rubber and later plastics. Services such as service stations and convenience stores sprang up too. The automobile also changed social life. It stimulated outdoor recreation and created leisure activities like roadside restaurants and hotels. It also ended rural isolation and brought urban amenities to small towns and farms.
In addition, the automobile allowed people to travel more frequently and visit family and friends. It increased the number of schools and medical facilities in rural areas. It gave women the opportunity to drive and go to work which they had not been able to do before. It enabled urban dwellers to escape to the countryside for vacations. And it allowed families to move from rural areas to urban centers where there were more jobs, education and health care facilities.
Automobiles became one of the most important inventions in human history and a central part of daily life. It is hard to imagine what modern life would be without them. Today there are more than 1.4 billion cars in operation worldwide. The majority are in the United States where the population drives more than three trillion miles a year on average.
In the late twentieth century, however, market saturation coincided with technological stagnation, resulting in a decline in automobile production and innovation. This coincided with public discontent over nonfunctional styling and safety issues, economic aspects relating to ‘gas guzzling’ cars, pollution problems, and the draining of world oil reserves. The automobile industry responded to these concerns by producing more fuel-efficient and functionally designed smaller cars from Germany and Japan. In the future there is a possibility that we may see an increased use of hybrid electric and autonomous automobiles. The automobile is a symbol of freedom, wealth and power. It provides a sense of independence and self-reliance because it does not depend on the weather or other people to get you where you need to go. It is also a status symbol for the wealthy and upper class.