The History of Automobiles and Motorcycles


During the first half of the twentieth century, the automobile industry grew rapidly in the United States. The rise of industrialization, higher per capita income, and economic development in the United States all contributed to the demand for automobiles. The American manufacturing tradition helped lower automobile prices and make automobiles affordable for middle-class families.

During the late 18th century, the first recorded automobiles were steam engines attached to wagons. These were cumbersome and difficult to control. By the late nineteenth century, better steam automobiles were available.

During the mid-Victorian era, bicycle builder Ernest Michaux created a similar machine. His three-wheeler had a horizontal single-cylinder gasoline engine and a drive chain to the rear wheel. The car was designed to carry a large number of passengers.

In the early twentieth century, a number of people used electric automobiles. These cars were slow and heavy. However, they were very popular because they were affordable and could attract a romantic interest.

The early twentieth century also saw the invention of the internal combustion engine. The engine used gasoline, diesel, or kerosene. The power of the engine was measured in horsepower. This engine revolutionized how many automobiles were powered.

The automobile industry recovered after World War II. The industry experienced a downturn in the 1920s. However, after the war, the industry rebounded and began producing more automobiles than ever before.

Today, most automobiles carry passengers and cargo in a closed compartment. They are available in many sizes, shapes, and designs.

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