The Evolution of the Automobile & Its Effects on Society

Introduction

Evolution is an inevitable process in most things that we encounter in our day-to-day lives. Most aspects undergo the evolution process for the purpose of better performance through incorporation of new features and elements that are desired by people as needs change day by day.

An automobile can be defined as a motor vehicle or vessel that is powered for transportation especially of passengers. A lot of importance is attached to it due to the help it offers to a majority of people particularly in terms of convenience.

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The automobile is one concept that has undergone considerable evolution with many positive changes being witnessed and each evolution stage being associated with some improvements from prior stage. There are also negative impacts. This piece of work will give an exhaustive discussion of the evolution of the automobile and the effects it has had on the society.

Background information: The evolution

Coming up with the automobile did not take a single day nor did it involve a single individual. The evolution of the automobile has taken a relatively long period for it to be at the state in which it is today.

The history of automobile can be traced back in the late 18th century or early 19th century. This is connected to the engineering and technological advancements that were witnessed in Europe during this time. During this period, the European engineers started inventing and bringing into action vehicles that were powered by a motor.

It was later that other sources of power were invented for instance steam, combustion and electricity and the motors developed therefore took different forms depending on the source of power. This caused some form of confusion and by the beginning of the 20th century; it was still not clear the type of engine that was appropriate to power the automobile[1].

In the beginning, an electric vehicle was the most common automobile. However, with the invention of a battery, a battery-powered car became popular mainly because it was in a position to move with greater speed and go over a long distance as compared to an electric car. For this reason, the electric cars stopped being produced past the first decade of the 20th century.

The steam-powered automobile was also popular and was used even in the 1920’s. The problems associated with this type of automobile are cost of construction as well as maintenance. It was also deemed dangerous since it presented a high probability of explosion of the boiler.

The steam driven engine for that reason did not become popular. With the passage of time, the steam and electric automobiles were out done by the combustion engine driven cars, as they were deemed more reliable. The popularity of the combustion engine can be traced when it was opted for by the early American automobile founders such as Henry Ford.

After the trials and comparison of the automobiles, it was now time to produce automotives for commercial purposes. This started towards the end of the 19th century (1890), in France. Commercial automobile production in the United States started in the beginning of the 20th century and it was equal to what was produced in Europe. Engineering and handicraft strategies were utilized in the making of the automobiles.

Initially, different parts from different suppliers were brought together in a plant and assembled to make a vehicle. Various automobile making firms were established but their number went on decreasing as time went by in various countries including Japan, Europe, and the United States of America due to varying reasons, for instance, poor management, and lack of resources.

The three horsepower and curved dash Oldsmobile was the first automobile to be produced in large scale. Various automobile making firms were established between the year 1904 to the year 1908 in the United States of America and they engaged in very competitive business and one of the notable firms include the Ford Motor Company.

Initially, automobiles were associated with the wealthy people but their popularity spread to the public with time. With the increase in popularity, the automobiles became relatively cheaper and hence people of the middle class could afford them. This was enabled by cheap pricing of the cars and provision of incentives to employees such that they would afford the cars without straining.

The popularity of the automobile has been on the increase all through from their invention to present day. The automobile has become a necessity and it is deemed as a tool that makes life interesting and easy especially through enhancing movements of both people and goods from one place to another an aspect that was very difficult during the earlier days.

However, the economic status has been a factor that has influenced the popularity of the automobiles in that when the status are favourable, the popularity and use increases while it decreases in times of recession and inflation.

Practical examples include increase in popularity after the First World War and during the Second World War and a decrease at the time of great depression, which was characterized by increased unemployment rate[2].

Successful automobile manufacturing companies were known through their specific trademark, which could be deduced from their design, speed, as well as service provided.

It is evident that there have been many changes in the automobile industry in an effort to come up with the best automobile in terms of features as well as safety. Various people have been involved in the evolution process each playing a significant role in bringing about ideas to make better automobiles.

Even with the availability of other modes of transportation that could even be more comfortable and convenient, it is evident that cars have dominated the transport sector. We find that vehicles have become an essential element in our day-to-day lives and most families have at least one car. Many resources are used on transportation particularly for the gas.

Economic hardships have for this reason resulted in people preferring to use public means of transport because in as much as they would wish to travel in the comfort of their own cars it becomes very expensive and they cannot afford to maintain their personal cars[3].

Effects of the Automobile Evolution on the Society

Most aspects do not exist in isolation and therefore there are usually some forms of dependencies, which in turn lead to some effects. The effects could be either positive or negative depending on situations and the results achieved. The automobile evolution is associated with considerable impacts on the society, the positive ones seeming to outdo the negative ones.

The automobile industry and the evolutions involved have been received with a lot of excitement and appreciation by different members of the society due to the enhancement of lives particularly with respect to transportation and movement. It has for example allowed for integration and collaboration of people irrespective of the distance involved an aspect that was very difficult in the past.

Work is an area that has been improved to a notable degree where people can now work far from their resident areas. In the past, it was not possible for an individual to work away from the home area due to movement problems, those living in the city were forced to work in the city, and those living in the countryside worked in the farms.

The automobiles invention, development, and improvements have however improved the situation of the places where a lot of growth has been experienced in the suburbs allowing people to live near town centres where they can easily commute back and forth to work in the town. We can therefore say that the invention of the automobile has had a lot of effect on the world’s culture.

It has for instance eliminated the concept of isolation and instead given individuals a great degree of freedom where they can easily explore the world to the maximum for their benefit or rather survival[4].

The automobiles have influenced the living habits and social conventions greatly through enhancing mobility. As opposed to earlier days where transport was a problem and people from different areas or regions would not integrate, it is now easy to move from one place to the other hence everyone from any location is able to be part of the mainstream in terms of economic and social practices.

Automobiles and the improvement of the transport system have played a great role in narrowing the gap that exists between rural and urban lifestyle. This is through improved access to facilities such as the market, schools, as well as health centres. Infrastructure has also improved as most people buy automobiles making investment on roads to be a national priority.

Concerning socialization, automobiles have improved the way people socialize and establish relationship ties. Young people have been able to improve their dating styles by going out and spending sometimes in separate places away from their home place.

In other words, automobiles have added to the youths, the freedom they need to make healthy relationships. Entertainment sector has also been influenced positively by the invention and development of the automobile.

Drive-in movies became very popular where people would conveniently meet at some movie location and since they had cars they would comfortably watch the movie without any worry of being late to go back home. Most teenagers would also have fun together as long as they know that movement is not a problem.

As opposed to the earlier days, people are now willing to relocate from the urban areas to the suburbs. The automobile has changed the city life by promoting the outward extension of the populations that adored the city to the suburbs.

This issue has been heightened by the fact that there has been enhanced highway transportation system, which in turn has facilitated the development and prosperity of businesses and industries far away from the city centres where there is plenty of cheap land.

Improvement of the rural areas and the availability of automobiles have really changed population distribution. Cars are now easily accessible, the areas are less crowded as compared to the urban centres, and spaces for building business structures are available.

Employment is another sector that has been touched by the automobile industry and its growth. Members of the society have not only enjoyed working in the automobile sector but also in other sectors in which the automobile has enhanced in one-way or the other.

Some of the sectors that have been enhanced by the automobile include the gas stations, auto shops, fast food centres, city construction programs, the transport related police and auto repair centres among others.

Some of these are entirely dependent on the automobile while others rely on it partly. Employment is a very crucial aspect that helps in lifting the living standards of people in the ever-growing population.

Another notable effect of the automobiles, although negative, is environmental degradation. Despite the fact that automobiles have been associated with many positive effects to the society, they have some negative effects on the society.

There has been a lot of pollution leading to environment degradation an aspect that is linked with very many negative impacts for instance global warming and the green house gas affect all these contributing to hunger and other negative aspects of life for example unfavourable weather conditions. The harmful emissions made by the automobiles are deemed dangerous to the environment and the organisms contained therein including human beings.

The pollution of air makes life unbearable for most organisms and may cause diseases especially respiratory related. The emissions also affect the ozone layer leading to unhealthy exposure that may cause diseases like cancer. Acidic rain is also an environmental problem caused by the harmful emissions.

This is because the oils consumed by these automobiles emit gases like sulphur dioxide that mix with rainwater to cause acid rain. This in turn causes harm to buildings (they wear out easily) and plants[5].

Conclusion

It is evident that the automobile has undergone many significant changes all aimed at making them better, safer and comfortable. One of the factors that have fuelled the evolution of the automobile is the changes in the needs and desires of the society.

This has in a way led to incorporation of the changes in the automobile industry. The automobile industry and its evolution has not been without some effects to the society as well hence we can conclude that both the society and the industry have influenced each other greatly.

Some of the effects of the automobile evolution on the society include; improvement of economic and social lives of people through allowing for integration, provision of employment opportunities to the population, narrowing of the gap between the urban and the rural life and change of attitude towards the rural areas and environmental degradation among others.

Although the effects of automobiles have been witnessed largely in the United States of America, the effects are spreading to the other parts of the world in a very high speed.

Bibliography

Berger, L.M. (2001). The Automobile in American History and Culture: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group

Lewis, L.D. (1991). The Automobile and American Culture. USA: University of Michigan Press

Volti, R. (2006). Cars and Culture: The Life Story of a Technology. Baltimore, Maryland: JHU Press

Witt, U. (2001). Escaping Satiation: The Demand Side of Economic Growth. New York: Springer

Yang, X. (1995). Globalization of the Automobile Industry: The United States, Japan, and the People’s Republic of China. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group

L.M. Berger (2001). The Automobile in American History and Culture: A Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group
U. Witt (2001). Escaping Satiation: The Demand Side of Economic Growth. New York: Springer
R. Volti (2006). Cars and Culture: The Life Story of a Technology. Baltimore, Maryland: JHU Press
X. Yang (1995). Globalization of the Automobile Industry: The United States, Japan, and the People’s Republic of China. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group
L.D. Lewis (1991). The Automobile and American Culture. USA: University of Michigan Press