Automobiles are one of the most important parts of modern society. They are the lifeline for millions of people worldwide. Modern automobiles are complex technical systems, incorporating thousands of component parts. These systems have evolved over the past several hundred years, from the invention of the internal combustion engine by Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens in the late 1600s, to the advent of safety legislation and air pollution control regulations, to the invention of the self-propelled motor vehicle.
In the United States, the automobile industry grew rapidly in the first half of the twentieth century. The introduction of Henry Ford’s manufacturing methods helped establish the United States as a leader in automotive production. By the 1920s, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler dominated the market. Their low prices, coupled with the American manufacturing tradition, made cars available to middle-class families.
After World War II, European automobile manufacturers began to use mass-production techniques. The rise of the Japanese automotive industry following World War II was also a major contributor to the expansion of the global automobile market.
During the mid-Victorian period, the French inventor Ernest Michaux developed a bicycle that could be ridden on its own. He later invented a motorcycle, a self-propelled bike that could carry a passenger and a cargo.
Initially, automobiles used steam engines. These were inconvenient to start and had short range. Steam engines were replaced by gasoline-powered ones. As gas became cheaper, the automobile started to dominate the street of Europe.
When the Great Depression hit, most independent automakers disappeared. However, Nash and Studebaker survived. A growing demand for automobiles in the United States and more equitable income distribution gave the country a disproportionate need for automotive transportation. Despite the widespread destruction of factories during the Great Depression, the Ford Motor Company produced 100 cars per day in the first two years of its existence.
By the end of the 1910s, the Ford Motor Company had created a moving assembly line in its Highland Park, Michigan, factory. This allowed it to reduce the cost of its Model T. In 1927, a coupe sold for $290.
Eventually, the United States began to outpace Europe in producing automobiles. In 1913, 485,000 cars were produced in the United States. By 1920, the gasoline-powered automobile had swept the streets of the country. It was the most widely accepted form of transportation in the world.
In the United States, the automobile revolutionized the transportation industry. Today, the world’s population uses an average of four trillion kilometers (three trillion miles) of road each year. Vehicles for off-road use need to be resistant to harsh operating conditions, and must be stable under heavy loads. Depending on the design and intended use of the car, weight distribution can vary greatly.
The modern automobile has developed from a number of new technologies, including the invention of the internal combustion engine by Dutch scientists Christiaan Huygens in 1866 and the development of the self-propelled motor vehicle by Gottlieb Daimler. These technological advances led to the creation of vehicles with many features, including automatic transmission, electric power steering, and brakes that can stop on a dime.