Typically, an automobile is a self-propelled wheeled vehicle, which is used for transportation, commerce, and pleasure. These vehicles are powered by internal combustion engines, gasoline, or electric motors. They are highly complex technical systems, containing thousands of component parts.
The automobile’s origins date back to the mid-Victorian era. Bicycle builder Ernest Michaux developed a similar contraption. A three-wheeler was built by Edward Butler in 1884, with a horizontal single-cylinder gasoline engine and a drive chain to the rear wheel.
In the United States, the Model T was introduced in 1908 by the Ford Motor Company. It was a mass-produced car that made it possible for a middle-class family to afford a car.
During the first half of the twentieth century, the automotive industry grew rapidly in the US. It subsequently surpassed other countries’ auto manufacturing. It became increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few companies.
During the late twentieth century, auto manufacturers were required to adhere to stricter standards. The goal was to improve emissions and fuel efficiency. They were also required to have more standardized designs, such as advertising. The auto industry was considered an essential part of the developed economy.
In 1965, consumer safety advocates began to pressure the federal government to adopt safety standards for the automobile. During the early 1980s, the U.S. and Japanese auto industries were in crisis, but the government was able to bail out Chrysler Corporation and a few other companies.