Automobiles are a type of motor vehicle with four wheels. They are mainly used for passenger transportation. However, they can also be employed for commercial purposes.
In Europe, the first automobiles were manufactured in the late 1800s. They were driven by a horizontal single-cylinder gasoline engine and had steerable front wheels. By the 1930s, the technology had become standard and volume production was possible.
The first American automobiles were designed by bicycle mechanics J. Frank and Charles Duryea in 1893. In 1896, they sold their first car.
Although the first cars were manufactured in Germany, the United States quickly emerged as the leading automotive industry. By the mid-1920s, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler had established themselves as the “Big Three” auto manufacturers.
After World War II, Japanese automobile production soared. This was attributed to cheap raw materials, an industrial revolution, and government subsidies.
In the United States, the Model T runabout sold for less than an average annual wage. This allowed Ford to produce 100 cars a day. During the Great Depression, however, the popularity of the Model T waned.
Eventually, a large number of independent automobile manufacturers were eliminated. In 1929, the number of active manufacturers was forty-four.
During the next decade, automobiles were transformed from being a novelty to a mass-personalized transportation option. The introduction of standardized products and manufacturing techniques enabled producers to divide the market into smaller segments.
Since then, the automobile has evolved into a complex technical system. It now includes thousands of components. New technologies have also been developed. These include improved body, drivetrain, chassis, control systems, and emission-control systems.