Throughout history, automobiles have been used to transport people, goods and property. Their design and construction have changed greatly over time, as technology has advanced. The vehicle today is a highly complex technical system involving thousands of component parts. It is a vehicle designed for both passenger and cargo transportation, and it is the preferred form of transportation in many countries.
The origins of the modern automobile can be traced back to the nineteenth century, when the idea of a self-propelled carriage began to emerge. Bicycle builder Ernest Michaux created a contraption similar to an automobile during the mid-Victorian era. Another cyclist, Sylvester Howard Roper, built a similar machine in 1867.
The automobile was a breakthrough in 19th-century transportation, and its design and manufacturing methods have evolved throughout the past hundred years. It is now the most commonly used means of transport in the United States. In fact, an estimated 1.4 billion passenger cars are sold worldwide each year. In addition, the automotive industry is one of the largest industries in the world, with approximately 70 million new passenger vehicles being manufactured each year.
The first commercial three-wheeler was produced by Edward Butler in 1884. It was powered by a horizontal single-cylinder gasoline engine with a drive chain to the rear wheel. The automobile grew in popularity during the twentieth century, with the U.S. becoming the manufacturing center for the car industry. By the 1980s, the American auto industry was in decline. However, it recovered in the 1990s. By 2004, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler were the “Big Three” auto manufacturers.
While the definition of an automobile can vary, most definitions indicate that the vehicle is a four-wheeled vehicle with a driver, passengers and a cargo compartment. The number of doors, windows and seats in an automobile often depend on the manufacturer and the intended use of the vehicle. The roof of an automobile is normally supported by pillars at each side of the body.
In the twentieth century, automobiles began to incorporate more complex subsystems to achieve high performance, while reducing emissions. As technology continued to evolve, manufacturers were able to divide the market into smaller segments. As a result, more manufacturers introduced new designs more frequently. These subsystems, including powertrains, emission control systems and chassis, have also helped improve the overall safety of the vehicles.
The automotive industry in the United States became increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies, and the 1920s were a difficult time for the industry. The Big Three had 90 percent of the US market by 1939. By the early 1980s, the companies were suffering from an economic downturn and were being bailed out by the U.S. government. In response, the automakers lobbied against regulation of the industry.
After World War II, the auto industry began to rebound. In the 1970s, gasoline prices increased as a result of oil shortages. The price of Japanese autos also rose, as a result of a quota system negotiated with Japan. As a result, more and more Americans relied on imported automobiles.