The beginnings of the automobile stem all the way back to 1672. The modern automobile has come a long way from the days of Karl Benz, Gottlieb Daimler, and Wilhelm Maybach. There have been many different versions of the automobile, running on a variety of power sources. In the early nineteen hundreds, gasoline won out for dominance over steam, and electric vehicles. Around the same time production line manufacturing was being implemented and expanded. Henry Ford gets credit for perfecting the mass assembly line. He was able to increase production time substantially, using less man-power. Because of the speed that the automobiles were being put together, they had to find a paint that would dry quickly enough. This is the reason why a majority of automobiles on the road at that time were predominately black. Japan Black was the only paint that would dry fast enough until the mid 1920s. The Ford Model T was known as the first affordable American car.
Ford also implemented complex safety requirements, which significantly decreased the amount of injuries in the factory. He played a major role in the economic rise of the United States. The assembly line system is one still in effect today across the world. Shortly after the development of the assembly lines the idea emerged to have one auto company create different models of cars so that buyers could upgrade as their wealth increased. That standard is still present today in the auto industry.
Post World War II many soldiers were returning home and many women going back into the homes. The automobile was more affordable with almost every middle class family owning one car. Having one car per family was acceptable at that time because most homes consisted of one-income families. With more homes owning cars, it wasn’t necessary for working men to live in the city in which they worked. This helped to make the suburbs a popular choice for the Baby Boom generation. It gave new families an opportunity to raise their kids outside of the city congestion. Suburbs were no longer looked at as areas where poorer people lived. With an increased amount of people moving out of the cities there came the need for road construction. Paved roads and highways were constructed to handle the increased amount of drivers on the road.
With road construction came an increase in jobs and the need for road laws. With more people in the workforce, the economy grew even more. Over the next three decades the living dynamic in the US changed drastically and the car became even more affordable and more relied on than other forms of transportation. As families have become two income homes, the amount of cars per home as increased from one to two and a quarter. Traffic laws developed out of the need for organization and safety. Generally known as the Rules of the Road, they are a combination of governmental laws and informal rules to follow.
The automobile has not only had economic and social effects on the world, but also environmental effects. The earliest automobiles were powered by steam engine, which gave way to the most popular form of fuel to date, which is gasoline and diesel. Both forms are known to be large causes of air pollution. They have also been blamed for climate changes and global warming. Because of these concerns, new laws have been formulated to decrease on greenhouse gases and emissions. In turn this is forcing the auto industry to seek out alternative power systems and fuel sources that will not release pollution into the air.
Currently the auto industry has put out hybrid vehicles to help ease the air pollution issue. They are also working on developing electric and
Hydrogen vehicles. Electric cars are not new to the car scene; they have been around since the 19th century, but lost favoritism because of the invention of the internal combustion engine, which was propelled by gasoline. Today, there are even car companies focusing solely on the development and distribution of electric vehicles. Tesla Motors was formed in 2003, putting out their first electric car in 2008. The company is appropriately named after Nikola Tesla. There are many positives to electric cars, but they have not been able to take off so quickly because of a few major drawbacks. They are much more expensive than gasoline fueled and hybrid cars. Also drivers are worried about the length of the batteries and being able to charge the car before the battery runs out. Also changing our dependence of foreign oil will have huge impacts on countries around the world. Hydrogen powered vehicles are another area of research currently underway. Hydrogen vehicles have very similar benefits and drawbacks to the electric car. Many car companies have either decreased funding or shut down their hydrogen research departments because of cost, and because the hydrogen car is too far away from commercialization.
In the very near future electric cars are going to become more popular and accessible to the consumer. There are already business models being installed and tested in communities to push along the process. An example of this would be a company called Better Place. They specialize in the lithium batteries that charge electric cars. They have switch stations, similar to gas stations now, but instead of charging your car, which would take hours, you would change your battery out for one that is already 100% charged. They are hoping that this kind of business would help ease the range anxiety behind electric cars. They already have deals, and trials going on in Australia, China, Denmark, Israel, Japan, Canada, California and Hawaii. Another area of research going on right now is driverless cars. The concept is nowhere near ready to be thought of in a retail way and is way too expensive. In the future it’s very possible that all vehicles on the road be driverless. In some aspects a driverless car can be extremely useful. An example of this would be when there are times of war, driverless cars can spare soldiers lives. But then again, we could end up like Sandra Bullock in Demolition Man.
“History of the Automobile.” Wikipedia. Web. 13 Feb. 2011. <http://www.wikipedia.org/>
“Automobile propulsion technologies.” Wikipedia. Web. 13 Feb. 2011. <http://www.wikipedia.org/>
Squatriglia, Chuck. “Better Place Unveils an Electric Car Battery Swap Station.” Wired.com. 13 May 2009. Web. 14 Feb. 2011. <http://www.wired.com/>
TRANSLOGIC 42: Japan VI, Better Place. Perf. Bradley Hasemeyer. Video.aol.com. Web. 14 Feb. 2011. <http://video.aol.com/video/translogic-42-japan-vi-better-place/185037703>