Automobiles and Motorcycles
Automobiles are vehicles which are designed and built to operate on roads. They are usually powered by an internal combustion engine, which uses gasoline. Some automobiles also use alternative means, such as electricity. In addition to being a mode of transport, they are also a device to provide the necessary conveniences and safety features required for their intended use.
Automobiles were first developed in Germany in the late 1800s. Their invention brought greater comfort and convenience to Americans living in rural areas. It also stimulated outdoor recreation and improved medical care. The automobile industry revolutionized the way America worked.
A modern vehicle, however, is an extremely complex technical system that employs thousands of component parts. New technologies are incorporated to ensure safety and increase production. Automotive manufacturers have incorporated many new designs and features to attract new customers.
After World War II, the automobile industry soared in Japan and Europe. In the United States, the industry became the backbone of a consumer goods-oriented society. As a result, the automobile became the primary customer for a wide variety of industrial products, including petroleum.
The number of active automobile manufacturers decreased from 253 in 1908 to 44 in 1929. By the 1920s, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler had emerged as the “Big Three” auto manufacturers. These companies combined for 43 percent of the U.S. market in 1936.
By the mid-1920s, the automobile industry ranked as the largest consumer of all industrial products in the country. It supplied one out of six jobs in 1982. At the same time, the American manufacturing tradition ensured low prices for automobiles. Vehicles also were subsidized by government subsidies and low interest rates.
One of the most important aspects of the automobile industry was its role in the First World War. Manufacturers manufactured 75 essential military items for the war. This industry provided a fifth of the nation’s war production.
In the 1920s, the automobile industry became a leading consumer of petroleum products. The automobile industry benefited from cheap raw materials, which encouraged mechanization of industrial processes in the United States.
The automobile industry was also a major contributor to the development of the petroleum industry. Because it could produce a car every year and restyle it, it was able to take advantage of pent-up demand from people who had stopped driving. This helped fuel the nation’s economy.
However, the automobile’s high unit profits came at the expense of increased air pollution and social costs. By the mid-1960s, the quality of the postwar models had decreased to 24 defects per unit.
When the Asian economic crisis hit in 1998, automobile production plummeted by 70 percent. Nevertheless, sales of cars and light trucks remained strong. Approximately 175,000 vehicles were sold in 1999, a modest recovery from the early 1990s.
Automobiles have been a part of American life for more than a century. Although they are no longer the dominant force in American life, their innovations continue to shape our world.