From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Karl Benz's "Velo" model (1894) - entered into an early automobile race
World map of passenger cars per 1000 people.
, motor car
is a wheeled motor vehicle
used for transporting passengers
, which also carries its own engine
or motor. Most definitions of the term specify that automobiles are designed to run primarily on roads, to have seating for one to eight people, to typically have four wheels, and to be constructed principally for the transport
of people rather than goods.
However, the term automobile
is far from precise, because there are many types of vehicles that do similar tasks.
There are approximately 600 million passenger cars worldwide (roughly one car per eleven people).
Around the world, there were about 806 million cars and light trucks on the road in 2007; they burn over 1 billion m³ (260 billion US gallons) of petrol/gasoline and diesel fuel yearly. The numbers are increasing rapidly, especially in China
The word automobile
comes, via the French automobile
, from the Ancient Greek
word αὐτός (autós
, "self") and the Latin mobilis
("movable"); meaning a vehicle
that moves itself, rather than being pulled or pushed by a separate animal or another vehicle. The alternative name car
is believed to originate from the Latin word carrus
("wheeled vehicle"), or the Middle English
") (from Old North French
), or karros
(a Gallic wagon
, a member of a Jesuit mission in China
, designed a steam-powered vehicle around 1672. It was a 65cm-long scale-model toy for the Chinese Emperor, that was unable to carry a driver or a passenger, but possibly was the first working steam-powered vehicle ('auto-mobile').
It is not known if Verbiest's model was ever built.
Although Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot
is often credited with building the first self-propelled mechanical vehicle or automobile in about 1769, by adapting an existing horse-drawn vehicle, this claim is disputed by some
, who doubt Cugnot's three-wheeler ever ran or was stable. What is not in doubt is that Richard Trevithick
built and demonstrated his Puffing Devil
road locomotive in 1801, believed by many to be the first demonstration of a steam-powered road vehicle, although it was unable to maintain sufficient steam pressure for long periods, and would have been of little practical use.
François Isaac de Rivaz
, a Swiss inventor, designed the first internal combustion engine
, in 1806, which was fueled by a mixture of hydrogen
and used it to develop the world's first vehicle, albeit rudimentary, to be powered by such an engine. The design was not very successful, as was the case with others, such as Samuel Brown
, Samuel Morey
, and Etienne Lenoir
with his hippomobile
, who each produced vehicles (usually adapted carriages or carts) powered by clumsy internal combustion engines.
In November 1881, French inventor Gustave Trouvé
demonstrated a working three-wheeled automobile that was powered by electricity. This was at the International Exhibition of Electricity in Paris.
An automobile powered by his own four-stroke cycle gasoline engine
was built in Mannheim
by Karl Benz in 1885, and granted a patent
in January of the following year under the auspices of his major company, Benz & Cie.
, which was founded in 1883. It was an integral
design, without the adaptation of other existing components, and included several new technological elements to create a new concept. This is what made it worthy of a patent. He began to sell his production vehicles in 1888.
A photograph of the original Benz Patent Motorwagen
, first built in 1885 and awarded the patent for the concept
In 1879, Benz was granted a patent for his first engine, which had been designed in 1878. Many of his other inventions made the use of the internal combustion engine feasible for powering a vehicle.
His first Motorwagen
was built in 1885, and he was awarded the patent for its invention as of his application on January 29, 1886. Benz began promotion of the vehicle on July 3, 1886, and about 25 Benz vehicles were sold between 1888 and 1893, when his first four-wheeler was introduced along with a model intended for affordability. They also were powered with four-stroke engines of his own design. Emile Roger of France
, already producing Benz engines under license, now added the Benz automobile to his line of products. Because France was more open to the early automobiles, initially more were built and sold in France through Roger than Benz sold in Germany.
In 1896, Benz designed and patented the first internal-combustion flat engine
, called a boxermotor
in German. During the last years of the nineteenth century, Benz was the largest automobile company in the world with 572 units produced in 1899 and, because of its size, Benz & Cie., became a joint-stock company
Daimler and Maybach founded Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft
(Daimler Motor Company, DMG) in Cannstatt
in 1890, and under the brand name, Daimler
, sold their first automobile in 1892, which was a horse-drawn stagecoach built by another manufacturer, that they retrofitted with an engine of their design. By 1895 about 30 vehicles had been built by Daimler and Maybach, either at the Daimler works or in the Hotel Hermann, where they set up shop after disputes with their backers. Benz and the Maybach and the Daimler team seem to have been unaware of each other's early work. They never worked together because, by the time of the merger of the two companies, Daimler and Maybach were no longer part of DMG.
Daimler died in 1900 and later that year, Maybach designed an engine named Daimler-Mercedes
, that was placed in a specially-ordered model built to specifications set by Emil Jellinek
. This was a production of a small number of vehicles for Jellinek to race and market in his country. Two years later, in 1902, a new model DMG automobile was produced and the model was named Mercedes after the Maybach engine which generated 35 hp. Maybach quit DMG shortly thereafter and opened a business of his own. Rights to the Daimler
brand name were sold to other manufacturers.
Karl Benz proposed co-operation between DMG and Benz & Cie. when economic conditions began to deteriorate in Germany following the First World War
, but the directors of DMG refused to consider it initially. Negotiations between the two companies resumed several years later when these conditions worsened and, in 1924 they signed an Agreement of Mutual Interest
, valid until the year 2000. Both enterprises standardized design, production, purchasing, and sales and they advertised or marketed their automobile models jointly, although keeping their respective brands.
On June 28, 1926, Benz & Cie. and DMG finally merged as the Daimler-Benz company, baptizing all of its automobiles Mercedes Benz, as a brand honoring the most important model of the DMG automobiles, the Maybach design later referred to as the 1902 Mercedes-35 hp, along with the Benz name. Karl Benz remained a member of the board of directors of Daimler-Benz until his death in 1929, and at times, his two sons participated in the management of the company as well.
The first design for an American automobile with a gasoline internal combustion engine was drawn in 1877 by George Selden
of Rochester, New York
, who applied for a patent for an automobile in 1879, but the patent application expired because the vehicle was never built. After a delay of sixteen years and a series of attachments to his application, on November 5, 1895, Selden was granted a United States patent (U.S. Patent 549,160
) for a two-stroke
automobile engine, which hindered, more than encouraged, development of automobiles in the United States
. His patent was challenged by Henry Ford and others, and overturned in 1911.
, there had been several attempts to build steam cars with varying degrees of success, with Thomas Rickett
even attempting a production run in 1860. Santler
from Malvern is recognized by the Veteran Car Club of Great Britain as having made the first petrol-powered car in the country in 1894
followed by Frederick William Lanchester
in 1895, but these were both one-offs.
The first production vehicles in Great Britain came from the Daimler Motor Company
, a company founded by Harry J. Lawson
in 1896, after purchasing the right to use the name of the engines. Lawson's company made its first automobiles in 1897, and they bore the name Daimler
In 1892, German engineer Rudolf Diesel
was granted a patent for a "New Rational Combustion Engine". In 1897, he built the first Diesel Engine
Steam-, electric-, and gasoline-powered vehicles competed for decades, with gasoline internal combustion engines achieving dominance in the 1910s.
As a result, Ford's cars came off the line in fifteen minute intervals, much faster than previous methods, increasing productivity eightfold (requiring 12.5 man-hours before, 1 hour 33 minutes after), while using less manpower.
It was so successful, paint
became a bottleneck. Only Japan black
would dry fast enough, forcing the company to drop the variety of colors available before 1914, until fast-drying Duco lacquer
was developed in 1926. This is the source of Ford's apocryphal
remark, "any color as long as it's black".
In 1914, an assembly line worker could buy a Model T with four months' pay.
Ford's complex safety procedures—especially assigning each worker to a specific location instead of allowing them to roam about—dramatically reduced the rate of injury. The combination of high wages and high efficiency is called "Fordism
," and was copied by most major industries. The efficiency gains from the assembly line also coincided with the economic rise of the United States. The assembly line forced workers to work at a certain pace with very repetitive motions which led to more output per worker while other countries were using less productive methods.
In the automotive industry
, its success was dominating, and quickly spread worldwide seeing the founding of Ford France and Ford Britain in 1911, Ford Denmark 1923, Ford Germany 1925; in 1921, Citroen
was the first native European manufacturer to adopt the production method. Soon, companies had to have assembly lines, or risk going broke; by 1930, 250 companies which did not, had disappeared.
Development of automotive technology was rapid, due in part to the hundreds of small manufacturers competing to gain the world's attention. Key developments included electric ignition
and the electric self-starter (both by Charles Kettering
, for the Cadillac
Motor Company in 1910-1911), independent suspension
, and four-wheel brakes.
Ford Model T
, 1927, regarded as the first affordable American automobile
Since the 1920s, nearly all cars have been mass-produced to meet market needs, so marketing plans often have heavily influenced automobile design. It was Alfred P. Sloan
who established the idea of different makes of cars produced by one company, so buyers could "move up" as their fortunes improved.
Reflecting the rapid pace of change, makes shared parts with one another so larger production volume resulted in lower costs for each price range. For example, in the 1930s, LaSalles
, sold by Cadillac
, used cheaper mechanical parts made by Oldsmobile
; in the 1950s, Chevrolet
shared hood, doors, roof, and windows with Pontiac
; by the 1990s, corporate drivetrains
and shared platforms
(with interchangeable brakes
, suspension, and other parts) were common. Even so, only major makers could afford high costs, and even companies with decades of production, such as Apperson
, or Premier, could not manage: of some two hundred American car makers in existence in 1920, only 43 survived in 1930, and with the Great Depression
, by 1940, only 17 of those were left.
In Europe much the same would happen. Morris
set up its production line at Cowley
in 1924, and soon outsold Ford, while beginning in 1923 to follow Ford's practise of vertical integration
, buying Hotchkiss
(gearboxes), and Osberton (radiators), for instance, as well as competitors, such as Wolseley
: in 1925, Morris had 41% of total British car production. Most British small-car assemblers, from Abbey
had gone under. Citroen did the same in France, coming to cars in 1919; between them and other cheap cars in reply such as Renault
's 10CV and Peugeot
, they produced 550,000 cars in 1925, and Mors
, Hurtu, and others could not compete.
Germany's first mass-manufactured car, the Opel 4PS Laubfrosch
(Tree Frog), came off the line at Russelsheim
in 1924, soon making Opel the top car builder in Germany, with 37.5% of the market.
Fuel and propulsion technologies
Most automobiles in use today are propelled by gasoline
(also known as petrol) or diesel
internal combustion engines, which are known to cause air pollution
and are also blamed for contributing to climate change
and global warming
Increasing costs of oil-based fuels, tightening environmental laws
and restrictions on greenhouse gas
emissions are propelling work on alternative power systems for automobiles. Efforts to improve or replace existing technologies include the development of hybrid vehicles
, and electric
and hydrogen vehicles
which do not release pollution into the air.
There are three main statistics to which automobile safety can be compared:
(Data taken from UK transportation)
While road traffic injuries represent the leading cause in worldwide injury-related deaths,
their popularity undermines this statistic.
Costs and benefits
The costs of automobile usage, which may include the cost of: acquiring the vehicle, repairs
, parking fees
are weighed against the cost of the alternatives, and the value of the benefits - perceived and real - of vehicle usage. The benefits may include on-demand transportation, mobility, independence and convenience.
Similarly the costs to society of encompassing automobile use, which may include those of: maintaining roads
, land use
, public health
, health care
, and of disposing of the vehicle at the end of its life, can be balanced against the value of the benefits to society that automobile use generates. The societal benefits may include: economy benefits, such as job and wealth creation, of automobile production and maintenance, transportation provision, society wellbeing derived from leisure and travel opportunities, and revenue generation from the tax
opportunities. The ability for humans to move flexibly from place to place has far reaching implications for the nature of societies.
Transportation is a major contributor to air pollution
in most industrialised nations. According to the American Surface Transportation Policy Project nearly half of all Americans are breathing unhealthy air. Their study showed air quality in dozens of metropolitan areas has worsened over the last decade.
In the United States the average passenger car emits 11,450 lbs (5 tonnes
) of carbon dioxide
, along with smaller amounts of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrogen.
Animals and plants are often negatively impacted by automobiles via habitat destruction
and pollution. Over the lifetime of the average automobile the "loss of habitat potential" may be over 50,000 square meters (538,195 square feet) based on Primary production
may act as an incentive for the production of more efficient, hence less polluting, car designs (e.g. hybrid vehicles
) and the development of alternative fuels
. High fuel taxes may provide a strong incentive for consumers to purchase lighter, smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, or to not drive. On average, today's automobiles are about 75 percent recyclable, and using recycled steel helps reduce energy use and pollution.
In the United States Congress, federally mandated fuel efficiency standards have been debated regularly, passenger car standards have not risen above the 27.5 miles per US gallon (8.55 L/100 km; 33.0 mpg-imp
) standard set in 1985. Light truck
standards have changed more frequently, and were set at 22.2 miles per US gallon (10.6 L/100 km; 26.7 mpg-imp
) in 2007. Alternative fuel vehicles
are another option that is less polluting
than conventional petroleum
Other negative effects
Residents of low-density, residential-only sprawling communities are also more likely to die in car collisions
which kill 1.2 million people worldwide each year, and injure about forty times this number.
Sprawl is more broadly a factor in inactivity and obesity
, which in turn can lead to increased risk of a variety of diseases.
Main article: Driverless car
Fully autonomous vehicles, also known as robotic cars, or driverless cars, already exist in prototype, and are expected to be commercially available around 2020. According to urban designer and futurist Michael E. Arth
, driverless electric vehicles—in conjunction with the increased use of virtual reality
for work, travel, and pleasure—could reduce the world's 800,000,000 vehicles to a fraction of that number within a few decades.
This would be possible if almost all private cars requiring drivers, which are not in use and parked 90% of the time, would be traded for public self-driving taxis that would be in near constant use. This would also allow for getting the appropriate vehicle for the particular need—a bus could come for a group of people, a limousine could come for a special night out, and a Segway could come for a short trip down the street for one person. Children could be chauffeured in supervised safety, DUIs
would no longer exist, and 41,000 lives could be saved each year in the U.S. alone.
Future car technologies
Open source development
There have been several projects aiming to develop a car on the principles of open design
. The projects include OScar
(through 40fires.org) and c,mm,n.
None of the projects have reached significant success in terms of developing a car as a whole both from hardware and software perspective and no mass production ready open-source based design have been introduced as of late 2009. Some car hacking
through on-board diagnostics
(OBD) has been done so far only.
Alternatives to the automobile
Established alternatives for some aspects of automobile use include public transit
, horseback riding
and using a velomobile
arrangements and carpooling
are also increasingly popular–the U.S. market leader in car-sharing has experienced double-digit growth in revenue and membership growth between 2006 and 2007, offering a service that enables urban residents to "share" a vehicle rather than own a car in already congested neighborhoods. Bike-share
systems have been tried in some European cities, including Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Similar programs have been experimented with in a number of U.S. Cities.
Additional individual modes of transport, such as personal rapid transit
could serve as an alternative to automobiles if they prove to be socially accepted.
The automotive industry designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and sells the world's motor vehicles
. In 2008, more than 70 million motor vehicles, including cars
and commercial vehicles
were produced worldwide.
About 250 million vehicles are in use in the United States. Around the world, there were about 806 million cars and light trucks on the road in 2007; they burn over 260 billion gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel yearly. The numbers are increasing rapidly, especially in China and India.
In the opinion of some, urban transport systems based around the car have proved unsustainable, consuming excessive energy, affecting the health of populations, and delivering a declining level of service despite increasing investments. Many of these negative impacts fall disproportionately on those social groups who are also least likely to own and drive cars.
The sustainable transport
movement focuses on solutions to these problems.
In 2008, with rapidly rising oil prices, industries such as the automotive industry, are experiencing a combination of pricing pressures from raw material costs and changes in consumer buying habits. The industry is also facing increasing external competition from the public transport sector, as consumers re-evaluate their private vehicle usage.
Roughly half of the US's fifty-one light vehicle plants are projected to permanently close in the coming years, with the loss of another 200,000 jobs in the sector, on top of the 560,000 jobs lost this decade.
Combined with robust growth in China, in 2009, this resulted in China becoming the largest automobile producer and market in the world.
The automotive market is formed by the demand and the industry. This article is about the general, major trends in the automotive market, mainly from the demand side.
The European automotive market has always boasted more smaller cars than the United States. With the high fuel prices and the world petroleum crisis
, the United States may see its automotive market become more like the European market with fewer large vehicles on the road and more small cars
For luxurious cars, with the current volatility in oil prices, going for smaller cars is not only smart, but also trendy. And because fashion is of high importance with the upper classes, the little green cars with luxury trimmings become quite plausible 
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