Automobiles and Motorcycles
Automobiles are four-wheeled vehicles designed to carry passengers. They are usually fueled by gasoline. However, diesel, propane, and other types of fuel are used as alternative energy sources. The automobile is one of the most important technologies in modern society.
In the late 1800s, French and German engineers perfected the automobile. The first gas-fueled car was patented by Karl Benz in 1886.
As the need for transportation in the United States grew, the automotive industry benefited from the development of mass production techniques. These techniques made the cars affordable for middle class families.
During the first half of the twentieth century, the American automobile industry dominated the market. By the 1920s, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler were the “Big Three” auto companies.
After World War II, automobiles soared in Europe and Japan. The automobile industry became global by the 1980s.
Early automobiles were based on steam engines. They were inconvenient to use, and the range was short. When the first gasoline-fueled cars were developed, they won the competition.
Early gasoline cars were more affordable and popular than other types of motor vehicles. The Model T runabout sold for less than an average wage in the United States.
Until the 1930s, European automakers did not use the mass-production techniques that the American manufacturers developed. It was only after World War II that manufacturers began introducing new technical developments to their products.
These improvements paved the way for the introduction of electric cars. Battery-powered electric cars had limited range. Electric cars could be recharged, but charging stations were difficult to find.