The History of Automobiles

Automobiles are a very important part of modern life. They give people the ability to travel long distances very quickly and they can make it much easier to visit family or friends that live far away. Automobiles also help to create many jobs. Millions of people work in factories that produce them and millions more work at gas stations, restaurants or motels that travelers stop at. However, cars also cause many problems. They can be a source of pollution and they often cause traffic jams. They can also be dangerous for people riding in them and they can cause accidents that result in the deaths of thousands of people each year. Despite these problems, automobiles are an integral part of the world’s economy and they are here to stay.

Automobiles come in many different shapes and sizes. They can be a coupe which is a two door car with only one seat in the back or they can be a minivan which has many seats and can carry up to nine people. Most of the time people drive their automobiles by themselves but sometimes they carry passengers and in this case the driver must be licensed to do so. Passengers must wear seat belts in most countries and children should be placed in special seats. The body of an automobile is made from different materials including steel, aluminum and strong plastics. The engine is the heart of the automobile. It produces the power that turns the wheels of the car and the electricity to light it up. The engine is very complicated and there are many systems that work together to power the car, control it and keep it safe for people to ride in.

In the beginning, automobiles were powered by steam. They were heavy and moved very slowly but steam engines eventually gave way to internal combustion engines that ran on a variety of volatile fuels. The first gas-powered automobiles were very expensive but as technology improved and the demand for automobiles increased prices fell and production soared. Automobiles became an essential part of the developed world’s economies and it was not long before most families had one.

The development of the automobile has been a very gradual process with most innovations occurring over a period of years. Some of the most important inventions include the electric self-starter and the closed all-steel body, as well as the hydraulic brakes and syncromesh transmission. After World War II the automobile industry began to stagnate as market saturation coincided with technological stagnation.

Engineering in the postwar era was subordinated to questionable aesthetics of nonfunctional styling and quality deteriorated to the point that by the mid-1960s Americans were consuming twenty-four defects per vehicle, most of them safety related. The higher unit profits that Detroit was able to achieve on fuel-guzzling road cruisers came at the social cost of increased air pollution and a drain on dwindling world oil reserves. The number of active car manufacturers fell from 253 in 1908 to 44 in 1929 as the industry was consolidated into a handful of giants such as Ford, General Motors and Chrysler.