Essay on The History of the Automobile

1086 Words 5 Pages
Starting in the late 1700's, European engineers began tinkering with motor powered vehicles. Steam, combustion, and electrical motors had all been attempted by the mid 1800's. By the 1900's, it was uncertain which type of engine would power the automobile. At first, the electric car was the most popular, but at the time a battery did not exist that would allow a car to move with much speed or over a long distance. Even though some of the earlier speed records were set by electric cars, they did not stay in production past the first decade of the 20th century. The steam-driven automobile lasted into 1920's. However, the price on steam powered engines, either to build or maintain was incomparable to the gas powered engines. Not only was the …show more content…
By 1920 Ford sold over a million cars.

At the beginning of the century the automobile entered the transportation market as a toy for the rich. However, it became increasingly popular among the general population because it gave travelers the freedom to travel when they wanted to and where they wanted. As a result, in North America and Europe the automobile became cheaper and more accessible to the middle class. This was facilitated by Henry Ford who did two important things. First he priced his car to be as affordable as possible and second, he paid his workers enough to be able to purchase the cars they were manufacturing. This helped push wages and auto sales upward. The convenience of the automobile freed people from the need to live near rail lines or stations; they could choose locations almost anywhere in an urban area, as long as roads were available to connect them to other places. Many states in the US established motor fuel taxes that were used only to build and maintain highways helping the auto highway system become self-supporting.

Popularity of the automobile has consistently moved with the state of the economy, growing during the boom period after World War I and dropping abruptly during the Great Depression, when unemployment was high. World War II saw a large increase in mass transit because employment was high and automobiles were scarce. The rapid growth of car owners after World War II, particularly in the United States and Western Europe

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