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The Influence Of Automobiles On American Society

1752 words - 8 pages

Ever since the invention of the automobile, the car has been a large part of American life. Currently there are more than 16 million cars sold that are made in America (Magee, Ferrara, and LaMeau 149). It is something that is used every day in America by millions of people. The automobile opened the door for new opportunities and new experiences. It symbolizes the American ideal of freedom and independence. Americans have embraced the automobile and have implemented it into their lives. Automobiles fueled the American economy and helped establish a nationwide network of roads. Automobiles have had a great influence on American society through their history, the pioneers of the automotive industry, the companies involved in the automotive industry, and the highway system.
The history of the automobile was on-going from 1770 to 1914, and in that time frame, the automobile became something that is widely recognized in modern times. The first attempts to make a car were designed around propulsion from a steam engine. At the time, the steam engine was the best form of an engine. Using heat and water, the steam engine got its power from the pressure of the steam. Although primitive, the steam engine was an important part in the advancement of the automobile. The first self propelled vehicle arose in 1770 and is the fardier à vapeur (Wise 8). The fardier à vapeur was not an immediate success, but marks a huge monument to the development of the automobile. From 1820 to 1840, the steam propulsion flourished, but soon died off in the early 1850’s due to new legislation deeming steam powered cars impractical (Wise 8).
After the steam engine, the age innovation with the internal combustion engine began from 1880-1900. Like the steam engine, the internal combustion engine was not successful at first. Despite the failures, the newfound form of power enabled the car to become much smaller and lightweight. Cars fitted with internal combustion engines actually had three wheels at first and closely resembled bicycles. Popular steam carriage manufacturers saw the potential of the internal combustion powered car and switched their production (Wise 12). For a company Peugeot, the car industry started to show its first spikes in demand, their production rose from 5 cars a year to 29 cars a year (Wise 13). Thus, Peugeot’s production levels marked the start of a new age for the demand of the automobile.
From 1901 to 1914, the needs of a car took a dramatic turn. People finally started to demand more cars and cars started to become a large part of American society. The car was starting to become more practical and reliable due to the constant progress in building a better car. Although the car is an alternative form of transportation, the car became something more. Customers and the car companies started to demand and implement stylistic qualities into the automobile. George Baldwin Selden saw the enormous opportunity to take charge of the car industry by...

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