Typically, automobiles are used for transportation, for commerce, and for pleasure. They can be powered by internal combustion engines, electric motors, or gasoline. Generally, they are four-wheeled vehicles that seat between one and eight passengers. They can also be modified to provide better handling, speed, or comfort.
Automobiles are considered to be an essential part of developed economies. However, they are highly taxed and are often targets of thieves. They are also the primary cause of air pollution. The best way to reduce the number of auto injuries is to require that automakers design safer cars. This is done through standardized designs and marketing. By the 1980s, U.S. car companies were suffering from lower sales, increased production costs, and the rise of Japanese competitors. In response, the auto industry lobbied against government regulations that would have reduced the number of automobile accidents.
The automobile began as a bicycle-like contraption in the early nineteenth century. The first commercial three-wheeler was built in 1884 by Edward Butler. It was equipped with a horizontal single-cylinder gasoline engine and steerable front wheels. The engine was powered by a drive chain to the rear wheel.
The automobile was the answer to the 19th-century dream of a self-propelled vehicle. The Stout Scarab was a precursor to the minivan. It was designed to carry several passengers and was the first of its kind. It was modeled after a beetle and featured a streamlined body. It was the product of William Bushnell Stout, who worked for his own engineering firm.
During the mid-Victorian era, bicycle builders Ernest Michaux and Sylvester Howard Roper developed similar machines. A few years later, a Czech company named Nesselsdorfer Wagenbau built a Prasident automobil. During the 1970s, oil shortages and embargoes made gasoline prices increase. This led to the formation of a quota system with Japan, which raised the price of Japanese cars. During this time, American manufacturing tradition made automobiles affordable to middle-class families.
After World War II, demand for automobiles increased in Europe and other parts of the world. After a period of recession, the auto industry re-emerged and regained ground it had lost to Japanese manufacturers in the 1970s. The “Big Three” automobile manufacturers – Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler – held 90 percent of the U.S. market in 1939. These companies organized public relations campaigns to boost sales.
After WWII, the auto industry in Japan grew greatly. By the 1990s, Japan had surpassed the United States in auto production. A number of automotive industries in China, Germany, and South Korea followed. By 2020, the automotive industry in China will have produced 20 million vehicles. The automobile is the most commonly used form of transport in the United States. It is the most valuable type of Personal Property in the U.S. Depending on the type of car, it can cost upwards of $2 million.
The automobiles are highly complex technical systems. They have thousands of component parts, and many systems are required to operate. They are expensive to produce and to maintain.