Automobiles, also known as motorcars, are a type of transportation vehicle. Usually four-wheeled, they are used for passenger transport, commerce, and other purposes. They are complex technical systems with thousands of component parts. The automobile is one of the most important forms of transport in modern society.
In the late 19th century, the invention of an internal combustion engine (ICE) triggered the creation of the automobile. Several inventors worked to develop a better automobile, which eventually evolved into the present-day car. Until the mid-twentieth century, the automobile was a self-propelling carriage.
After the development of the ICE, the automobile became the first modern vehicle. Early designs were bicycle-like contraptions, called pedal cycles. These machines often had small spark ignition engines. But in the 1880s, two German engineers created the first commercially marketed motorcycle.
The automobile grew into a global industry. It has become one of the most popular forms of transportation, with nearly three trillion miles traveled worldwide every year. However, they are also a major cause of air pollution. Because of the high costs associated with owning an automobile, they are also highly taxed.
To protect consumers from accidents, auto companies began to set up safety regulations. From 1965 to 1995, more than 50 standards were imposed on vehicle manufacturers. Some of these standards regulated head restraints, brakes, and windshields. Others regulated door strength, bumpers, and seat belts.
Safety standards have since evolved, as automobiles have become more sophisticated. Passenger cars now account for about half of all new passenger vehicles sold worldwide.
Auto manufacturers have been able to split the market into several segments. As automobiles have become more affordable, middle-class families have been able to purchase them. Manufacturers have employed research and development engineers to make their cars safer and more fuel-efficient.
In the U.S., auto manufacturers have worked to reduce emissions, increase safety, and improve chassis, body, and drivetrain. The United States, California, and the European Union have imposed stricter limits on hydrocarbons, nitric oxides, and carbon monoxide.
During the early part of the twentieth century, the automotive industry grew rapidly in the United States and Europe. With economic growth, higher per capita income, and more people using automobiles, the demand for automobiles grew. By the end of the twentieth century, the three largest automobile manufacturers in the world were General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler.
However, the auto industry in the United States began to suffer in the early 1980s. This was due to the rising cost of gasoline, oil shortages in the 1970s, and the rise of the Japanese auto industry. At that time, citizens relied more on imported autos. The government responded by bailed out the Chrysler Corporation, and imposed a quota system to prevent Japanese cars from entering the U.S. Ultimately, the auto industry regained its position and started to become more competitive again.
While the auto industry is a huge factor in air pollution, it is one of the most valuable types of Personal Property in the U.S. It is estimated that each year 70 million passenger cars are manufactured.