Automobiles are vehicles with four wheels and are used to transport passengers or cargo. They were first invented in Germany in the late 1800s. They are now made all over the world.
The automobile revolutionized the way Americans live, work, and travel. It freed homemakers from the narrow confines of their homes and brought urban amenities to rural America. By the mid-20th century, automobiles became the backbone of a consumer goods-oriented society. A typical American household owned a motor vehicle or more. In 1980, 87 percent of all households had at least one.
During World War I, the automobile industry was critical to the country’s war production. Manufacturers produced 75 essential military items. Totaling $29 billion, this was one-fifth of the nation’s total war output.
The automobile was a great leap forward for the United States, as it opened up new markets, provided better medical care, and stimulated outdoor recreation. Automobiles also became the lifeblood of the petroleum industry. At the same time, the automobile industry provided one out of every six jobs in the U.S. in 1982.
Automobiles became an international industry by the end of the twentieth century. The global production of passenger cars reached 70 million in 2009. Today, nearly half of the world’s passenger cars are manufactured in foreign countries.
Modern automobiles have evolved from safety legislation, technological breakthroughs, and the competition between manufacturers in various parts of the world. These changes are reflected in the hundreds of component parts that are now used in modern automobiles.
The automobile also changed the architecture of a typical American dwelling. It also provided a more spacious living environment and enabled travelers to carry more passengers.
Before the automobile, many people relied on bicycles or farm tractors to get around. However, these modes of transportation did not offer the same convenience as the car. For example, a tractor could tow a trailer and provide power, while a bicycle would only take riders on short trips.
The automobile’s popularity in the United States was a major driver in the industrialization of the country. It also brought better schools and medical care to rural America. Additionally, it brought urban amenities to small towns and spurred tourism.
The automobile industry became the largest consumer of many industrial products, such as steel and petroleum. After World War II, the United States surpassed France as the world’s biggest producer of automobiles. Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler formed the “Big Three” automakers in the 1920s.
While the United States was leading in the production of automobiles, Europe was slow to catch up. European automakers began using mass production techniques in the 1930s. This helped manufacturers gain greater competitive advantage. Nevertheless, the market saturation coincided with the technological stagnation that occurred after the Great Depression.
Automobiles are still an important part of the American economy. In fact, they are the world’s second-largest exporter. As of 2015, the United States has an estimated 1.4 billion passenger cars, and a total of 87.2 percent of the country’s households own at least one motor vehicle.