How the Modern Automobile Revitalized the World

How the Modern Automobile Revitalized the World














Table of Contents

  1. Introduction. 4
  2. Background. 4

2.1. What is an Automobile?. 4

2.2. When was the Automobile Invented?. 5

2.3. How the Automobile Works. 5

  1. Impact on Society. 6

3.1. Society before the Automobile. 6

3.2. Society after the Automobile. 7

3.3. How do Automobiles affect Modern Society?. 7

  1. Benefits and Drawbacks. 8

4.1. Benefits. 8

4.2. Drawbacks. 9

  1. Relevance to Engineering. 10
  2. Conclusion. 11

References. 12









The introduction of the automobile in the early 1800s elicited an overhaul in the form of transportation used by human beings. After the discovery of the car, the society and the economy have both experienced considerable effects in relation to the utilization of the automobile. The following research will focus on addressing such impacts as well as the influence that these inventions pose on modern engineering.


















How the Modern Automobile Revitalized the World

1. Introduction

The automobile is probably one of the most significant and innovative technologies ever developed by man. As part of the defining gadgets of the early 19th century, this particular technology has undergone numerous changes as well as imposed considerable effects on the global society. Therefore, this paper will focus on summarizing the background of the automobile in relation to the effect it imposed on society ever since its inception and the manner in which it affects the society recurrently. Apart from providing the machinery’s history and its consistent implications, the paper will also evaluate the benefits and demerits of the respective invention and its correlation to contemporary engineering practice.

2. Background

2.1. What is an Automobile?

Conventionally, the automobile constituted a motor vehicle specifically designed for the transportation of people rather than commodities. This invention also bears an engine, which is the main mechanism behind its motion. Accordingly, most definitions characterize automobiles as vehicles designed particularly for road, possess a seating for a maximum of eight people, designed for mainly for the transportation of people and bear four wheels. However, due to the numerous advancements conducted on the vehicle over the years, it is difficult to suggest such a definition based on the way different forms of inventions also possess similar characteristics but are not necessarily automobiles. A good illustration of this is the rail carriage. Also defined as the motorcar, the rail carriage possesses the entire features characteristic of the mentioned definition. In addition to this, it is also capable of carrying both passengers and commodities. Hence, in contemporary definition, an automobile is a self-driven passenger vehicle with a minimum of four wheels as well as an internal combustion engine capable of land transport (The Free Dictionary, 2014).

2.2. When was the Automobile Invented?

Even though there were several inventions based on the automobile, most of them did not possess the existing mechanics that are under utilization in today’s motor vehicle. Based on this information, Developed in 1886, Karl Benz is the person credited for the creation of the modern automobile (Lundqvist, Button & Nijkamp, 2003). The development of the steam engine confirms this. Apparently, by 1769, there was evidence of an invention based entirely on the use of a steam-powered engine. This innovation developed by Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot, was intentionally created for the army; however, people defined it as a tractor rather than an automobile. In addition to this, William Murdoch and Richard Trevithick developed steam-engine vehicles under the influence of Cugnot’s Fardier a Vapeur in 1784 and 1801 respectively (Lundqvist, Button & Nijkamp, 2003). More innovation continued all over the world with various inventors such as Josef Bozek and Henry Seth Taylor creating steam-powered vehicles that utilized oil as a fuel.

2.3. How the Automobile Works

Based on the different forms of vehicles created over the years, it is evident that an automobile operates on the mechanism of an internal combustion engine. The main purpose of an internal combustion engine is to alter the fuel gas injected into motion in order to establish movement. Presently, the simplest way of ensuring that motion is derived from the conversion of gasoline is via the burning of the fuel within an engine. Nearly all automobiles utilize the four-stroke combustion cycle in order to allow the combustion of gasoline. Also known as, the Otto Cycle, based on Nikolas Otto, the series constitutes four features. These strokes comprise the Intake stroke, Compression stroke, Combustion Stroke and Exhaust stroke. The intake stroke involves the movement of the gasoline and air into the engine through the intake valve. After this, the piston (which enables the engine’s acquisition of gasoline and air) moves up in order to influence the compression of the mixture of fuel and air resulting into a more powerful explosion. When the piston nears the stroke’s top, the connected spark plug unleashes a spark, which ignites the gasoline causing it to explode. This forces the piston to go down and enable the opening of the exhaust valve (Lundqvist, Button & Nijkamp, 2003).

3. Impact on Society

3.1. Society before the Automobile

Life before the appearance of motor vehicles was significantly different. At that point, there were conventional and disparate modes of transportation for individuals. Most people depended on their feet and were capable of walking long distances in order to reach their destinations. In addition to this, some individuals engaged in the creation of water transporting systems such as tule boats in order to travel through bodies of water. However, during the period between 16th and 18th centuries, individuals depended considerably on horses. Based on the impact of horse transportation, some invented carriages in order to ensure haulage for a slightly large number of people. Nonetheless, at this point, several inventions sprung in order to adapt to the manufacturing and production needs of the respective period. Accordingly, there was an explosion of innovations that assisted in the mechanization of agriculture, transportation and fabrication. Furthermore, coal was essential for the production of energy in order to create power for these inventions. The extensive use of coal also facilitated the development of steam-powered movable carriers, such as the rail carriage and the tractor, which influenced the creation of railroads and canals.

3.2. Society after the Automobile

The discovery of the automobile influenced further innovations relating to this particular invention. At the end of the 1700s, European engineers started trifling with vehicles powered by motors. This led to the use of steam, combustion and electricity, which had already undergone use as fuels in the 1800s. Even though there was much focus on altering the automobile, these vehicles were only available for the rich and therefore, not accessible to every person. However, this did not deter inventors from altering the automotives. Hence, by the start of the 1900s, it was unclear which nature of engine could control the automobile. Initially, the popular form of vehicle was the electric automotive, but the battery that was required to enable the car to cover long distances was non-existent. This challenge facilitated the popularity of the steam-powered vehicle, which lasted up to the 1920s after the development of the internal combustion engine by pioneers such as Henry Ford and Ransom E. Olds. The discovery of the internal combustion engine influenced mass production in France and America in 1890 and 1910 respectively, especially with the extensive accessibility of Henry T. Ford’s Model T in the American society.

3.3. How do Automobiles affect Modern Society?

The propagation of the automobile as a mass transportation medium comprises one of the most considerable developments of the 20th century. By delivering a previously unimagined level of individual auto-mobility to the populace of industrialized communities, the automotive constitutes a highly distinct form of transportation. Over the past century, the automobile has developed to a common object that facilitates living in the modern society. For example, the automobile has enabled simpler access to isolated places.  Apart from such an effect, motor vehicles have caused economic and social impacts within the current society. Undeniably, cars have contributed to modifications in the distribution of employment, patterns of shopping, social interactions and relationships, production priorities as well as city planning (Blanke, 2009). The increased utilization of motor vehicles has also decreased responsibilities of walking, railroads and horses as alternative modes of transportation. Furthermore, the automobile has altered life radically by hastening the external extension of people into the suburbs. Emphasis of this trend is due to the effect of highway transportation in the endorsement of businesses and industries. Moreover, highway transportation also motivates businesses to relocate to areas with cheap land, extensive available space and easy transport access.

4. Benefits and Drawbacks

4.1. Benefits

The automobile possesses benefits, which are applicable in the modern society. Foremost, motor vehicles facilitate on-demand transport. Unlike past societies, transportation in suburbia has become relatively simple due to the availability of automotives. With the introduction of public transport mediums such as buses and taxis, individuals are now capable of covering short and long distances. In addition to this, the availability of on-demand transportation has also endorsed accessibility of remote places, further enabling people to satisfy their needs and demands regardless of distance and time.  Apart from on-demand transportation, motor vehicles have also facilitated mobility (Blanke, 2009). In comparison with past societies, individuals were incapable of reaching desired destinations due to the unavailability of transportation modes. Even with the introduction of automobiles, the only individuals capable of accessing them were the wealthy further limiting other people from an easier form of mobility.

However, after mass production of cars, individuals residing in suburban societies have been capable of moving to different destinations. Additionally, access to automobiles has facilitated convenience and independence. Since most people are capable of gaining vehicles, it is much easier for individuals to use them for running personal errands and gratifying other personal demands. In addition to this, accessibility to cars has negated overdependence on public forms of transportation especially in developed countries. Furthermore, automobiles have endorsed the creation and development of jobs and employment opportunities. Illustrations of this benefit comprise vehicle-based businesses such as petrol and gas stations, car dealing businesses, hardware stores that deal specifically in the sale of automotive parts and vehicle service and maintenance businesses. In addition to this, automotives have allowed the opportunities especially with respect to public transportation systems. In developed and developing countries, buses and vans have become commercial forms of transportation leading to endorsement of more occupations.

4.2. Drawbacks

Aside from its positive impacts on society, motor vehicles have also established considerable drawbacks. One of these drawbacks comprises congestion. Undeniably, congestion was always been existent even before the arrival of the car. However, the masses of automotives that enter or depart from cities has compounded the issue significantly. Following this, the consistent increase in automobiles over the globe continues to complicate the discovery of applicable controls for congestion. Furthermore, establishing remedies for this issue is expensive. Apart from traffic congestion, the extensive utilization of automobiles for purposes such as business travel has influenced a considerable decrease within the public-transit systems. Irrespective of the development of mass-transit structures such as subways and light-rail, the issue has become impossible to curb due to low dispersal of individuals and businesses from urban vicinities.

Atmospheric pollution is also another drawback of the automobile. The concentration of considerable amounts of motor vehicles has exacerbated the problem. Accordingly, the exhausts emitted from cars generally contribute to the list of atmospheric pollutants evident within urban societies. In addition to this, such pollutants have enabled smog formation in cities commonly affected by topographic and atmospheric conditions. The danger of automobile exhausts does not only affect the environment. Indeed, the elements evident within these pollutants constitute a variety of polluting materials such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and a range of multifaceted hydrocarbons as well as other compounds (Blanke, 2009). These elements, due to exposure to sunlight, have imposed negative implications such as respiratory diseases among humans, especially children. Accidents also comprise considerable demerits. Accordingly, highway accidents generate an upsetting toll of injuries and fatalities especially in places with extensive utilization of automobiles. The economic and social expenses of such occurrences are enormous.

5. Relevance to Engineering

The automobile, as a credible invention, provides a platform for conducting further engineering research. Based on this, engineers have focused on inventing certain mechanisms that may prove to be beneficial within the context of the motor vehicle. The autonomous car is an example of the motorcar’s relevance to engineering. These vehicles are capable of achieving human transportation abilities without human input. Over the past years, engineers have focused considerably on the development of driverless cars. Evidence of this project comprises Google’s autonomous car (Lee & Suh, 2006). As a prototype, the car has achieved a short-term of success based on its insusceptibility to accidents and human error. Apart from the autonomous car, engineers have also attempted to integrate computer technology with automobile capabilities. An example of this is the Open Source car. Several projects have aimed at developing a car based on the tenets of open design (Lee & Suh, 2006).

Apart from design technology, engineers have also focused on the development of alternative fuels. This research includes but not limited to the creation of fuel cells, Stirling engines, and biofuels. Furthermore, the need to invent alternative variants of fuel coincides with efforts based on addressing negative environmental impacts. Consequently, automobiles have exacerbated negative effects on the natural surroundings, especially in relation with exhaust fumes. Based on this, engineers have attempted to lessen these impacts by focusing on the modification of engine designs and the production of safe energy sources. Apart from this, a number of projects have also focused on the replacement of modern car bodies (Lee & Suh, 2006). This is due to the effect that steel bodies have on the consumption of fuel. Hence, in theory, by exchanging these bodies with lighter ones, it is possible to curb energy consumption, which will lead to less emission of dangerous exhaust fumes.

6. Conclusion

As evidenced, the effects of the invention of the automobile are considerable. Accordingly, the motor vehicle, as noted within the paper, has assumed a great role in the facilitation of the society and the economy in both developing and developed countries. Apart from this, the development of the automobile has also allowed access to areas deemed as remote further allowing extensive social interactions among different people with disparate backgrounds. Moreover, this particular innovation allowed individuals to exude independence by enabling them to focus on the gratification of their own needs without the need for alternative forms of transportation, which were common before its inception. Nonetheless, with its evolution, the car has also caused a variety of structural and environmental drawbacks, which affects people and the natural environment respectively.



Automobile. (n.d.). In The Free Dictionary online. Retrieved from

Blanke, D. (2009). Mobility without mayhem: Safety, cars, and citizenship. Technology and Culture, 50(1), 240-242.

Lee, D. G., & Suh, N. P. (2006). Axiomatic design and fabrication of composite structures: Applications in robots, machine tools and automobiles. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Lundqvist, L., Button, K., & Nijkamp, P. (2003). The automobile. Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Pub.

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