Automobiles and Motorcycles


Automobiles are four wheeled vehicles that are used for transportation. They are designed to carry passengers and goods. Modern cars are highly sophisticated technical systems that use thousands of components. As a result, they are highly expensive to purchase and operate. Moreover, they are one of the biggest contributors to air pollution.

The invention of the internal combustion engine in 1885 allowed for the development of the first automobile. However, before the advent of the automobile, the dream of a self-propelling carriage was not realized. A bicycle builder, Ernest Michaux, had already conceived a similar contraption. It had a horizontal single cylinder gasoline engine.

During the late nineteenth century, several individuals developed self-propelled machines. One of them was the Stout Scarab, a two-wheeled vehicle with a rear engine. Designed by William Bushnell Stout for his engineering firm, the machine was intended to provide passenger transportation.

By the middle of the twentieth century, the automotive industry had become a global industry. In Europe, production of automobiles increased dramatically after World War II. Japan had also emerged as an auto manufacturing powerhouse. However, in the United States, auto manufacturers were suffering from the economic crisis in the early 1980s. Auto companies lobbied against the introduction of safety regulations. Nevertheless, more than 50 standards were implemented on vehicle manufacturers between 1965 and 1995.

Most important safety standards include seat belts, head restraints, and a protective cushion. These are designed to minimize injury when a person is involved in a crash. Although they may reduce the rate of fatalities, these technologies cannot prevent accidents entirely.

Automobiles are the most common form of transport in society. Approximately 1.4 billion passenger cars are produced worldwide. Today, one-quarter of all passenger cars are manufactured in the United States. Many of these cars are sold to American consumers. Despite their importance, automobiles can also cause tremendous personal injury. Besides putting the driver and his passengers at risk, they are also the most popular targets for thieves.

Although the auto industry in the United States began to grow during the first half of the twentieth century, it faced a significant challenge in the 1920s. During this period, the price of gas rose because of oil shortages. Another factor was the growing popularity of imported cars. At that time, citizens relied more on foreign-made cars than on U.S.-made ones.

To combat the problems associated with the automobile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) was established. This agency was given the authority to enforce safety standards and to coordinate state programs to improve driver behavior.

Automotive manufacturers improved the performance of their vehicles, especially their engines and the bodies and chassis. They also worked on emission-control systems. Stricter regulations were imposed on hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide emissions by the European Union and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 2006.

Until the mid-2000s, the auto industry was predominantly concentrated in the hands of three major automakers: Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. This made it difficult for smaller automakers to gain ground. That changed in the 1990s, when U.S. companies regained their lost ground in the market.