A car (or automobile) is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transportation. Most definitions of car say they run primarily on roads, seat one to eight people, have four tires, and mainly transport people rather than goods.
Cars came into global use during the 20th century, and developed economies depend on them. The year 1886 is regarded as the birth year of the modern car when German inventor Karl Benz patented his Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Cars became widely available in the early 20th century. One of the first cars accessible to the masses was the 1908 Model T, an American car manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. Cars were rapidly adopted in the US, where they replaced animal-drawn carriages and carts, but took much longer to be accepted in Western Europe and other parts of the world.
Cars have controls for driving, parking, passenger comfort, and a variety of lights. Over the decades, additional features and controls have been added to vehicles, making them progressively more complex. These include rear reversing cameras, air conditioning, navigation systems, and in-car entertainment. Most cars in use in the 2010s are propelled by an internal combustion engine, fueled by the combustion of fossil fuels. Electric cars, which were invented early in the history of the car, began to become commercially available in 2008.
There are costs and benefits to car use. The costs to the individual include acquiring the vehicle, interest payments (if the car is financed), repairs and maintenance, fuel, depreciation, driving time, parking fees, taxes, and insurance. The costs to society include maintaining roads, land use, road congestion, air pollution, public health, health care, and disposing of the vehicle at the end of its life. Road traffic accidents are the largest cause of injury-related deaths worldwide.
The personal benefits include on-demand transportation, mobility, independence, and convenience. The societal benefits include economic benefits, such as job and wealth creation from the automotive industry, transportation provision, societal well-being from leisure and travel opportunities, and revenue generation from the taxes. People's ability to move flexibly from place to place has far-reaching implications for the nature of societies. There are around 1 billion cars in use worldwide. The numbers are increasing rapidly, especially in China, India and other newly industrialized countries.
|Fuel source||Gasoline, diesel, natural gas, electric, hydrogen, solar, vegetable oil|
The word car is believed to originate from the Latin word carrus or carrum ("wheeled vehicle"), or the Middle English word carre (meaning "two-wheel cart", from Old North French). In turn, these originated from the Gaulish word karros (a Gallic chariot). It originally referred to any wheeled horse-drawn vehicle, such as a cart, carriage, or wagon. "Motor car" is attested from 1895, and is the usual formal name for cars in British English. "Autocar" is a variant that is also attested from 1895, but that is now considered archaic. It literally means "self-propelled car". The term "horseless carriage" was used by some to refer to the first cars at the time that they were being built, and is attested from 1895.
The word "automobile" is a classical compound derived from the Ancient Greek word autós (αὐτός), meaning "self", and the Latin word mobilis, meaning "movable". It entered the English language from French, and was first adopted by the Automobile Club of Great Britain in 1897. Over time, the word "automobile" fell out of favour in Britain, and was replaced by "motor car". "Automobile" remains chiefly North American, particularly as a formal or commercial term. An abbreviated form, "auto", was formerly a common way to refer to cars in English, but is now considered old-fashioned. The word is still very common as an adjective in American English, usually in compound formations like "auto industry" and "auto mechanic". In Dutch and German, two languages historically related to English, the abbreviated form "auto" (Dutch) / "Auto" (German), as well as the formal full version "automobiel" (Dutch) / "Automobil" (German) are still used — in either the short form is the most regular word for "car".
The first working steam-powered vehicle was designed — and quite possibly built — by Ferdinand Verbiest, a Flemish member of a Jesuit mission in China around 1672. It was a 65-cm-long scale-model toy for the Chinese Emperor that was unable to carry a driver or a passenger. It is not known with certainty if Verbiest's model was successfully built or run.
Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot is widely credited with building the first full-scale, self-propelled mechanical vehicle or car in about 1769; he created a steam-powered tricycle. He also constructed two steam tractors for the French Army, one of which is preserved in the French National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts. His inventions were, however, handicapped by problems with water supply and maintaining steam pressure. In 1801, Richard Trevithick built and demonstrated his Puffing Devil road locomotive, believed by many to be the first demonstration of a steam-powered road vehicle. It was unable to maintain sufficient steam pressure for long periods and was of little practical use.
The development of external combustion engines is detailed as part of the history of the car but often treated separately from the development of true cars. A variety of steam-powered road vehicles were used during the first part of the 19th century, including steam cars, steam buses, phaetons, and steam rollers. Sentiment against them led to the Locomotive Acts of 1865.
In 1807, Nicéphore Niépce and his brother Claude created what was probably the world's first internal combustion engine (which they called a Pyréolophore), but they chose to install it in a boat on the river Saone in France. Coincidentally, in 1807 the Swiss inventor François Isaac de Rivaz designed his own 'de Rivaz internal combustion engine' and used it to develop the world's first vehicle to be powered by such an engine. The Niépces' Pyréolophore was fuelled by a mixture of Lycopodium powder (dried spores of the Lycopodium plant), finely crushed coal dust and resin that were mixed with oil, whereas de Rivaz used a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen. Neither design was 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 internal combustion engines.
In November 1881, French inventor Gustave Trouvé demonstrated the first working (three-wheeled) car powered by electricity at the International Exposition of Electricity, Paris. Although several other German engineers (including Gottlieb Daimler, Wilhelm Maybach, and Siegfried Marcus) were working on the problem at about the same time, Karl Benz generally is acknowledged as the inventor of the modern car.
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 in Mannheim, Germany. He was awarded the patent for its invention as of his application on 29 January 1886 (under the auspices of his major company, Benz & Cie., which was founded in 1883). Benz began promotion of the vehicle on 3 July 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 car to his line of products. Because France was more open to the early cars, initially more were built and sold in France through Roger than Benz sold in Germany. In August 1888 Bertha Benz, the wife of Karl Benz, undertook the first road trip by car, to prove the road-worthiness of her husband's invention.
In 1896, Benz designed and patented the first internal-combustion flat engine, called boxermotor. During the last years of the nineteenth century, Benz was the largest car company in the world with 572 units produced in 1899 and, because of its size, Benz & Cie., became a joint-stock company. The first motor car in central Europe and one of the first factory-made cars in the world, was produced by Czech company Nesselsdorfer Wagenbau (later renamed to Tatra) in 1897, the Präsident automobil.
Daimler and Maybach founded Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG) in Cannstatt in 1890, and sold their first car in 1892 under the brand name Daimler. It was a horse-drawn stagecoach built by another manufacturer, which 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, Maybach and the Daimler team seem to have been unaware of each other's early work. They never worked together; 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 car 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 car models jointly, although keeping their respective brands. On 28 June 1926, Benz & Cie. and DMG finally merged as the Daimler-Benz company, baptizing all of its cars Mercedes Benz, as a brand honoring the most important model of the DMG cars, 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 also participated in the management of the company.
In 1890, Émile Levassor and Armand Peugeot of France began producing vehicles with Daimler engines, and so laid the foundation of the automotive industry in France. In 1891, Auguste Doriot and his Peugeot colleague Louis Rigoulot completed the longest trip by a gasoline-powered vehicle when their self-designed and built Daimler powered Peugeot Type 3 completed 2,100 km (1,300 miles) from Valentigney to Paris and Brest and back again. They were attached to the first Paris–Brest–Paris bicycle race, but finished 6 days after the winning cyclist, Charles Terront.
The first design for an American car with a gasoline internal combustion engine was made in 1877 by George Selden of Rochester, New York. Selden applied for a patent for a car 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 5 November 1895, Selden was granted a United States patent (U.S. Patent 549,160) for a two-stroke car engine, which hindered, more than encouraged, development of cars in the United States. His patent was challenged by Henry Ford and others, and overturned in 1911.
In 1893, the first running, gasoline-powered American car was built and road-tested by the Duryea brothers of Springfield, Massachusetts. The first public run of the Duryea Motor Wagon took place on 21 September 1893, on Taylor Street in Metro Center Springfield. The Studebaker Automobile Company, subsidiary of a long-established wagon and coach manufacturer, started to build cars in 1897:p.66 and commenced sales of electric vehicles in 1902 and gasoline vehicles in 1904.
In Britain, 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 gasoline-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 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 car 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. Although various pistonless rotary engine designs have attempted to compete with the conventional piston and crankshaft design, only Mazda's version of the Wankel engine has had more than very limited success.
All in all, it is estimated that over 100,000 patents created the modern automobile and motorcycle.
Large-scale, production-line manufacturing of affordable cars was started by Ransom Olds in 1901 at his Oldsmobile factory in Lansing, Michigan and based upon stationary assembly line techniques pioneered by Marc Isambard Brunel at the Portsmouth Block Mills, England, in 1802. The assembly line style of mass production and interchangeable parts had been pioneered in the U.S. by Thomas Blanchard in 1821, at the Springfield Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts. This concept was greatly expanded by Henry Ford, beginning in 1913 with the world's first moving assembly line for cars at the Highland Park Ford Plant.
As a result, Ford's cars came off the line in fifteen-minute intervals, much faster than previous methods, increasing productivity eightfold, while using less manpower (from 12.5-man-hours to 1 hour 33 minutes). 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 1913, 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.
Since the 1920s, nearly all cars have been mass-produced to meet market needs, so marketing plans often have heavily influenced car design. It was Alfred P. Sloan who established the idea of different makes of cars produced by one company, called the General Motors Companion Make Program, so that 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 powertrains 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, Cole, Dorris, Haynes, 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 practice of vertical integration, buying Hotchkiss (engines), Wrigley (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 to Xtra, 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's 5CV, 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.
In Japan, car production was very limited before World War II. Only a handful of companies were producing vehicles in limited numbers, and these were small, three-wheeled for commercial uses, like Daihatsu, or were the result of partnering with European companies, like Isuzu building the Wolseley A-9 in 1922. Mitsubishi was also partnered with Fiat and built the Mitsubishi Model A based on a Fiat vehicle. Toyota, Nissan, Suzuki, Mazda, and Honda began as companies producing non-automotive products before the war, switching to car production during the 1950s. Kiichiro Toyoda's decision to take Toyoda Loom Works into automobile manufacturing would create what would eventually become Toyota Motor Corporation, the largest automobile manufacturer in the world. Subaru, meanwhile, was formed from a conglomerate of six companies who banded together as Fuji Heavy Industries, as a result of having been broken up under keiretsu legislation.
Most cars in use in the 2010s run on gasoline (petrol) burnt in an internal combustion engine (ICE). The International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers says that, in countries that mandate low sulfur gasoline, gasoline-fuelled cars built to late 2010s standards (such as Euro-6) emit very little local air pollution. Some cities ban older gasoline-fuelled cars and some countries plan to ban sales in future. However some environmental groups say this phase-out of fossil fuel vehicles must be brought forward to limit climate change. Some analysts say that production of gasoline fueled cars may have peaked and suggest the peak occurred in 2017 or 2018.
Other hydrocarbon fossil fuels also burnt by deflagration (rather than detonation) in ICE cars include diesel, Autogas and CNG. Removal of fossil fuel subsidies, concerns about oil dependence, tightening environmental laws and restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions are propelling work on alternative power systems for cars. This includes hybrid vehicles, plug-in electric vehicles and hydrogen vehicles. 2.1 million light electric vehicles (of all types but mainly cars) were sold in 2018, over half in China: this was an increase of 64% on the previous year, giving a global total on the road of 5.4 million. Vehicles using alternative fuels such as ethanol flexible-fuel vehicles and natural gas vehicles are also gaining popularity in some countries. Cars for racing or speed records have sometimes employed jet or rocket engines, but these are impractical for common use.
Oil consumption has increased rapidly in the 20th and 21st centuries because there are more cars; the 1985–2003 oil glut even fuelled the sales of low-economy vehicles in OECD countries. The BRIC countries are adding to this consumption.
Cars are equipped with controls used for driving, passenger comfort and safety, normally operated by a combination of the use of feet and hands, and occasionally by voice on 21st century cars. These controls include a steering wheel, pedals for operating the brakes and controlling the car's speed (and, in a manual transmission car, a clutch pedal), a shift lever or stick for changing gears, and a number of buttons and dials for turning on lights, ventilation and other functions. Modern cars' controls are now standardised, such as the location for the accelerator and brake, but this was not always the case. Controls are evolving in response to new technologies, for example the electric car and the integration of mobile communications.
Some of the original controls are no longer required. For example, all cars once had controls for the choke valve, clutch, ignition timing, and a crank instead of an electric starter. However new controls have also been added to vehicles, making them more complex. These include air conditioning, navigation systems, and in car entertainment. Another trend is the replacement of physical knobs and switches by secondary controls with touchscreen controls such as BMW's iDrive and Ford's MyFord Touch. Another change is that while early cars' pedals were physically linked to the brake mechanism and throttle, in the 2010s, cars have increasingly replaced these physical linkages with electronic controls.
Cars are typically fitted with multiple types of lights. These include headlights, which are used to illuminate the way ahead and make the car visible to other users, so that the vehicle can be used at night; in some jurisdictions, daytime running lights; red brake lights to indicate when the brakes are applied; amber turn signal lights to indicate the turn intentions of the driver; white-coloured reverse lights to illuminate the area behind the car (and indicate that the driver will be or is reversing); and on some vehicles, additional lights (e.g., side marker lights) to increase the visibility of the car. Interior lights on the ceiling of the car are usually fitted for the driver and passengers. Some vehicles also have a trunk light and, more rarely, an engine compartment light.
In the United States, "from 1975 to 1980, average [car] weight dropped from 1,842 to 1,464 kg (4,060 to 3,228 lb), likely in response to rising gasoline prices" and new fuel efficiency standards. The average new car weighed 1,461 kg (3,221 lb) in 1987 but 1,818 kg (4,009 lb) in 2010, due to modern steel safety cages, anti-lock brakes, airbags, and "more-powerful—if more-efficient—engines." Heavier cars are safer for the driver, from an accident perspective, but more dangerous for other vehicles and road users. The weight of a car influences fuel consumption and performance, with more weight resulting in increased fuel consumption and decreased performance. The SmartFortwo, a small city car, weighs 750–795 kg (1,655–1,755 lb). Heavier cars include full-size cars, SUVs and extended-length SUVs like the Suburban.
According to research conducted by Julian Allwood of the University of Cambridge, global energy use could be greatly reduced by using lighter cars, and an average weight of 500 kg (1,100 lb) has been said to be well achievable. In some competitions such as the Shell Eco Marathon, average car weights of 45 kg (99 lb) have also been achieved. These cars are only single-seaters (still falling within the definition of a car, although 4-seater cars are more common), but they nevertheless demonstrate the amount by which car weights could still be reduced, and the subsequent lower fuel use (i.e. up to a fuel use of 2560 km/l).
Most cars are designed to carry multiple occupants, often with four or five seats. Cars with five seats typically seat two passengers in the front and three in the rear. Full-size cars and large sport utility vehicles can often carry six, seven, or more occupants depending on the arrangement of the seats. On the other hand, sports cars are most often designed with only two seats. The differing needs for passenger capacity and their luggage or cargo space has resulted in the availability of a large variety of body styles to meet individual consumer requirements that include, among others, the sedan/saloon, hatchback, station wagon/estate, and minivan.
Road traffic accidents are the largest cause of injury-related deaths worldwide. Mary Ward became one of the first documented car fatalities in 1869 in Parsonstown, Ireland, and Henry Bliss one of the United States' first pedestrian car casualties in 1899 in New York City. There are now standard tests for safety in new cars, such as the EuroNCAP and the US NCAP tests, and insurance-industry-backed tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Worldwide, road traffic is becoming ever safer, in part due to efforts by the government to implement safety features in cars (e.g., seat belts, air bags, etc.), reduce unsafe driving practices (e.g., speeding, drinking and driving and texting and driving) and make road design more safe by adding features such as speed bumps, which reduce vehicle speed, and roundabouts, which reduce the likelihood of a head-on-collision (as compared with an intersection).
The costs of car usage, which may include the cost of: acquiring the vehicle, repairs and auto maintenance, fuel, depreciation, driving time, parking fees, taxes, and insurance, 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. During the 1920s, cars had another benefit: "[c]ouples finally had a way to head off on unchaperoned dates, plus they had a private space to snuggle up close at the end of the night."
Similarly the costs to society of car use may include; maintaining roads, land use, air pollution, road congestion, public health, health care, and of disposing of the vehicle at the end of its life; and can be balanced against the value of the benefits to society that car use generates. Societal benefits may include: economy benefits, such as job and wealth creation, of car production and maintenance, transportation provision, society wellbeing derived from leisure and travel opportunities, and revenue generation from the tax opportunities. The ability of humans to move flexibly from place to place has far-reaching implications for the nature of societies.
While there are different types of fuel that may power cars, most rely on gasoline or diesel. The United States Environmental Protection Agency states that the average vehicle emits 8,887 grams of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide (CO
2) per gallon of gasoline. The average vehicle running on diesel fuel will emit 10,180 grams of carbon dioxide. Many governments are using fiscal policies (such as road tax or the US gas guzzler tax) to influence vehicle purchase decisions, with a low CO
2 figure often resulting in reduced taxation. Fuel taxes 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 cars 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, and though passenger car standards did not rise above the 27.5 miles per US gallon (8.6 L/100 km; 33.0 mpg‑imp) standard set in 1985 for many years, they increased in 2011 as a result of passage of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. Many cities in Europe, have banned older fossil fuel cars and all fossil fuel vehicles will be banned in Amsterdam from 2030. Many Chinese cities limit licensing of fossil fuel cars.
The growth in popularity of the car allowed cities to sprawl, therefore encouraging more travel by car resulting in inactivity and obesity, which in turn can lead to increased risk of a variety of diseases.
Transportation (of all types including trucks, buses and cars) 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.
Animals and plants are often negatively impacted by cars via habitat destruction and pollution. Over the lifetime of the average car the "loss of habitat potential" may be over 50,000 m2 (540,000 sq ft) based on primary production correlations. Animals are also killed every year on roads by cars, referred to as roadkill. More recent road developments are including significant environmental mitigations in their designs such as green bridges to allow wildlife crossings, and creating wildlife corridors.
Growth in the popularity of vehicles and commuting has led to traffic congestion. Moscow, Istanbul, Bogota, Mexico City and Sao Paulo were the world's most congested cities in 2018 according to INRIX, a data analytics company.
Car propulsion technologies that are under development include gasoline/electric and plug-in hybrids, battery electric vehicles, wheel hub motors, hydrogen cars, biofuels, and various alternative fuels. Research into future alternative forms of power include the development of fuel cells, Homogeneous charge compression ignition (HCCI), stirling engines, and even using the stored energy of compressed air or liquid nitrogen.
New materials which may replace steel car bodies include duralumin, fiberglass, carbon fiber, biocomposites, and carbon nanotubes. Telematics technology is allowing more and more people to share cars, on a pay-as-you-go basis, through car share and carpool schemes. Communication is also evolving due to connected car systems.
Fully autonomous vehicles, also known as driverless cars, already exist in prototype (such as the Google driverless car), but have a long way to go before they are in general use. 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 million 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, were replaced by public self-driving taxis that would be in nearly constant use. This would require an appropriate vehicle to be available for each 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 US alone.
There have been several projects aiming to develop a car on the principles of open design, an approach to designing in which the plans for the machinery and systems are publicly shared, often without monetary compensation. The projects include OScar, Riversimple (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.
Car-share arrangements and carpooling are also increasingly popular, in the US and Europe. For example, in the US, some car-sharing services have experienced double-digit growth in revenue and membership growth between 2006 and 2007. Services like car sharing offering a residents to "share" a vehicle rather than own a car in already congested neighborhoods.
The automotive industry designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and sells the world's motor vehicles, more than three-quarters of which are cars. In 2018 there were 70 million cars manufactured worldwide, down 2 million from the previous year.
The automotive industry in China produces by far the most (24 million in 2018), followed by Japan (8 million), Germany (5 million) and India (4 million). The largest market is China, followed by the USA.
Around the world there are about a billion cars on the road; they burn over a trillion litres of gasoline and diesel fuel yearly, consuming about 50 EJ (nearly 300,000,000,000 kilowatt-hours) of energy. The numbers of cars are increasing rapidly 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 investment. 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. The car industry is also facing increasing competition from the public transport sector, as some people re-evaluate their private vehicle usage.
Established alternatives for some aspects of car use include public transport such as buses, trolleybuses, trains, subways, tramways, light rail, cycling, and walking. Bike-share systems have been tried in some European cities, including Copenhagen and Amsterdam. Similar programs have been experimented with in a number of US cities. Additional individual modes of transport, such as personal rapid transit could serve as an alternative to cars if they prove to be socially accepted.
The term motorcar has formerly also been used in the context of electrified rail systems to denote a car which functions as a small locomotive but also provides space for passengers and baggage. These locomotive cars were often used on suburban routes by both interurban and intercity railroad systems.
Auto racing (also known as car racing, motor racing, or automobile racing) is a motorsport involving the racing of automobiles for competition.
Auto racing has existed since the invention of the automobile. Races of various sorts were organised, with the first recorded as early as 1867. Many of the earliest events were effectively reliability trials, aimed at proving these new machines were a practical mode of transport, but soon became an important way for competing makers to demonstrate their machines. By the 1930s, specialist racing cars had developed.
There are now numerous different categories, each with different rules and regulations.Automotive industry
The automotive industry comprises a wide range of companies and organizations involved in the design, development, manufacturing, marketing, and selling of motor vehicles. It is one of the world's largest economic sectors by revenue. The automotive industry does not include industries dedicated to the maintenance of automobiles following delivery to the end-user, such as automobile repair shops and motor fuel filling stations.
The word automotive comes from the Greek autos (self), and Latin motivus (of motion), referring to any form of self-powered vehicle. This term, as proposed by Elmer Sperry
(1860-1930), first came into use with reference to automobiles in 1898.BMW
BMW (German pronunciation: [ˈbeːˈʔɛmˈveː] (listen)) is a German multinational company which produces automobiles and motorcycles. The company was founded in 1916 as a manufacturer of aircraft engines, which it produced from 1917 until 1918 and again from 1933 to 1945.
Automobiles are marketed under the brands BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce, and motorcycles are marketed under the brand BMW Motorrad. In 2015, BMW was the world's twelfth largest producer of motor vehicles, with 2,279,503 vehicles produced.BMW is headquartered in Munich and produces motor vehicles in Germany, Brazil, China, India, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The registered company name is "Bayerische Motoren Werke AG". The Quandt family are long-term shareholders of the company, with the remaining shares owned by public float.
BMW has significant motorsport history, especially in touring cars, Formula 1, sports cars and the Isle of Man TT.Car classification
Governments and private organizations have developed car classification schemes that are used for various purposes including regulation, description and categorization of cars.
The International Standard ISO 3833-1977 Road vehicles - Types - Terms and definitions also defines terms for classifying cars.Dale Earnhardt
Ralph Dale Earnhardt Sr., nicknamed "The Intimidator", (; April 29, 1951 – February 18, 2001) was an American professional auto racing driver and team owner, best known for his involvement in stock car racing for NASCAR. The third child of racing driver Ralph Earnhardt and first of two to Martha Coleman, he began his career in 1975 in the World 600 as part of the Winston Cup Series.
Regarded as one of the most significant drivers in NASCAR history, Earnhardt won a total of 76 Winston Cup races over the course of his career, including the 1998 Daytona 500. He also earned seven NASCAR Winston Cup championships, tying for the most all-time with Richard Petty. This feat, accomplished in 1994, was not equaled again for 22 years until Jimmie Johnson in 2016. His aggressive driving style earned him the nicknames "Ironhead", "The Intimidator", "The Man in Black", and "The Count of Monte Carlo". Also, his success at the restrictor plate tracks of Daytona and Talladega earned him the nickname, "Mr. Restrictor Plate".
In February 2001, Earnhardt died due to injuries sustained in a collision during the final lap of the Daytona 500, an event that was widely lamented in the racing industry. Earnhardt has been inducted into numerous halls of fame, including the NASCAR Hall of Fame inaugural class in 2010.Ferrari
Ferrari (; Italian: [ferˈraːri]) is an Italian luxury sports car manufacturer based in Maranello. Founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1939 out of Alfa Romeo's race division as Auto Avio Costruzioni, the company built its first car in 1940. However, the company's inception as an auto manufacturer is usually recognized in 1947, when the first Ferrari-badged car was completed.
In 2014 Ferrari was rated the world's most powerful brand by Brand Finance. In June 2018, the 1964 250 GTO became the most expensive car in history, setting an all-time record selling price of $70 million.Fiat S.p.A. acquired 50% of Ferrari in 1969 and expanded its stake to 90% in 1988. In October 2014 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (FCA) announced its intentions to separate Ferrari S.p.A. from FCA; as of the announcement FCA owned 90% of Ferrari.
The separation began in October 2015 with a restructuring that established Ferrari N.V. (a company incorporated in the Netherlands) as the new holding company of the Ferrari group and the subsequent sale by FCA of 10% of the shares in an IPO and concurrent listing of common shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Through the remaining steps of the separation, FCA's interest in Ferrari's business was distributed to shareholders of FCA, with 10% continuing to be owned by Piero Ferrari. The spin-off was completed on 3 January 2016.Throughout its history, the company has been noted for its continued participation in racing, especially in Formula One, where it is the oldest and most successful racing team, holding the most constructors championships (16) and having produced the highest number of drivers' championship wins (15). Ferrari road cars are generally seen as a symbol of speed, luxury and wealth.Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is an American multinational automaker that has its main headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit. It was founded by Henry Ford and incorporated on June 16, 1903. The company sells automobiles and commercial vehicles under the Ford brand and most luxury cars under the Lincoln brand. Ford also owns Brazilian SUV manufacturer Troller, an 8% stake in Aston Martin of the United Kingdom and a 32% stake in Jiangling Motors. It also has joint-ventures in China (Changan Ford), Taiwan (Ford Lio Ho), Thailand (AutoAlliance Thailand), Turkey (Ford Otosan), and Russia (Ford Sollers). The company is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is controlled by the Ford family; they have minority ownership but the majority of the voting power.Ford introduced methods for large-scale manufacturing of cars and large-scale management of an industrial workforce using elaborately engineered manufacturing sequences typified by moving assembly lines; by 1914, these methods were known around the world as Fordism. Ford's former UK subsidiaries Jaguar and Land Rover, acquired in 1989 and 2000 respectively, were sold to Tata Motors in March 2008. Ford owned the Swedish automaker Volvo from 1999 to 2010. In 2011, Ford discontinued the Mercury brand, under which it had marketed entry-level luxury cars in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East since 1938.
Ford is the second-largest U.S.-based automaker (behind General Motors) and the fifth-largest in the world (behind Toyota, VW, Hyundai-Kia and General Motors) based on 2015 vehicle production. At the end of 2010, Ford was the fifth largest automaker in Europe. The company went public in 1956 but the Ford family, through special Class B shares, still retain 40 percent voting rights. During the financial crisis at the beginning of the 21st century, it was close to bankruptcy, but it has since returned to profitability. Ford was the eleventh-ranked overall American-based company in the 2018 Fortune 500 list, based on global revenues in 2017 of $156.7 billion. In 2008, Ford produced 5.532 million automobiles and employed about 213,000 employees at around 90 plants and facilities worldwide.Ford Mustang
The Ford Mustang is an American car manufactured by Ford. It was originally based on the platform of the second generation North American Ford Falcon, a compact car. The original 1962 Ford Mustang I two-seater concept car had evolved into the 1963 Mustang II four-seater concept car which Ford used to pretest how the public would take interest in the first production Mustang. The 1963 Mustang II concept car was designed with a variation of the production model's front and rear ends with a roof that was 2.7 inches shorter. Introduced early on April 17, 1964 (16 days after the Plymouth Barracuda), and thus dubbed as a "1964½" by Mustang fans, the 1965 Mustang was the automaker's most successful launch since the Model A. The Mustang has undergone several transformations to its current sixth generation.
The Mustang created the "pony car" class of American muscle cars, affordable sporty coupes with long hoods and short rear decks, and gave rise to competitors such as the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, AMC Javelin, Chrysler's revamped Plymouth Barracuda, and the second generation Dodge Challenger. The Mustang is also credited for inspiring the designs of coupés such as the Toyota Celica and Ford Capri, which were imported to the United States.
As of August 2018, over 10 million Mustangs have been produced in the U.S.The Ford Mustang began production five months before the normal start of the 1965 production year. The early production versions are often referred to as "1964½ models" but all Mustangs were advertised, VIN coded and titled by Ford as 1965 models, though minor design updates in August 1964 at the formal start of the 1965 production year contribute to tracking 1964½ production data separately from 1965 data (see data below). with production beginning in Dearborn, Michigan, on March 9, 1964; the new car was introduced to the public on April 17, 1964 at the New York World's Fair.Executive stylist John Najjar, who was a fan of the World War II P-51 Mustang fighter plane, is credited by Ford to have suggested the name. Najjar co-designed the first prototype of the Ford Mustang known as Ford Mustang I in 1961, working jointly with fellow Ford stylist Philip T. Clark. The Mustang I made its formal debut at the United States Grand Prix in Watkins Glen, New York, on October 7, 1962, where test driver and contemporary Formula One race driver Dan Gurney lapped the track in a demonstration using the second "race" prototype. His lap times were only slightly off the pace of the F1 race cars.
An alternative view was that Robert J. Eggert, Ford Division market research manager, first suggested the Mustang name. Eggert, a breeder of quarterhorses, received a birthday present from his wife of the book, The Mustangs by J. Frank Dobie in 1960. Later, the book's title gave him the idea of adding the "Mustang" name for Ford's new concept car. The designer preferred Cougar (early styling bucks can be seen wearing a Cougar grille emblem) or Torino (an advertising campaign using the Torino name was actually prepared), while Henry Ford II wanted T-bird II. As the person responsible for Ford's research on potential names, Eggert added "Mustang" to the list to be tested by focus groups; "Mustang," by a wide margin, came out on top under the heading: "Suitability as Name for the Special Car." The name could not be used in Germany, however, because it was owned by Krupp, which had manufactured trucks between 1951 and 1964 with the name Mustang. Ford refused to buy the name for about US$10,000 from Krupp at the time. Kreidler, a manufacturer of mopeds, also used the name, so Mustang was sold in Germany as the "T-5" until December 1978.
Mustangs grew larger and heavier with each model year until, in response to the 1971–1973 models, Ford returned the car to its original size and concept for 1974. It has since seen several platform generations and designs. Although some other pony cars have seen a revival, the Mustang is the only original model to remain in uninterrupted production over five decades of development and revision.Honda Civic
The Honda Civic (Japanese: ホンダ・シビック, Honda Shibikku) is a line of cars manufactured by Honda. Originally a subcompact, the Civic has gone through several generational changes, becoming both larger and more upscale, moving into the compact car segment. EPA guidelines for vehicle size class stipulate a car having combined passenger and cargo room of 110 to 119.9 cubic feet (3,110 to 3,400 L) is considered a mid-size car, and as such the tenth generation Civic sedan is technically a small-end mid-size car, although it still competes in the compact class. The Civic coupe is still considered a compact car. The Civic currently falls between the Honda Fit and Accord.
The first Civic was introduced in July 1972 as a two-door model, followed by a three-door hatchback that September. With an 1169 cc transverse engine and front-wheel drive like the British Mini, the car provided good interior space despite overall small dimensions. Initially gaining a reputation for being fuel-efficient, reliable, and environmentally friendly, later iterations have become known for performance and sportiness, especially the Civic Type R, Civic VTi, Civic GTi and Civic SiR/Si.The Civic has been repeatedly rebadged for international markets, and served as the basis for the Honda CR-X, the Honda CR-X del Sol, the Concerto, the first generation Prelude, the Civic Shuttle (later to become the Orthia), and the CR-V.
In Japan, as customers increasingly shifted to minivans and compact cars like the Fit, production of the non-hybrid Civic ended in August 2010 when it no longer complied with Japanese government dimension regulations in the width category. However, the Civic was reintroduced into the Japanese market with the launch of the tenth-generation model in 2017.MG Cars
MG is a British automotive marque and the M.G. Car Company Limited was the British sports car manufacturer that made the marque famous. The marque has been owned by Chinese automotive giant SAIC Motor Corporation Limited since 2005.
The company had its roots in the Morris Garages (MG) company begun in the 1920s as a sales promotion sideline within William Morris's Oxford city retail sales and service business by the business's manager, Cecil Kimber. Best known for its two-seat open sports cars, MG also produced saloons and coupés. The M.G. Car Company was Morris's personal property until 1 July 1935 when he sold it to his holding company, Morris Motors Limited, restructuring his holdings before issuing (preference) shares in Morris Motors to the public in 1936.
The MG marque underwent many changes in ownership, starting with Morris merging with Austin to create the British Motor Corporation Limited (BMC) in 1952. The M.G. Car Company became the MG Division of BMC in 1967 and so was a component of the 1968 merger that created British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC) and the company name stopped being used shortly after that. The MG marque continued to be used by the successors of BLMC: British Leyland, the Rover Group, and by the start of 2000, the MG Rover Group, which entered receivership in 2005. The MG marque along with other assets of MG Rover were purchased by Nanjing Automobile Group (which merged into SAIC in 2008). MG production restarted in 2007 in China. The first all-new MG model in the UK for 16 years, the MG 6, officially launched on 26 June 2011.Mercedes-Benz
Mercedes-Benz (German: [mɛɐ̯ˈtseːdəsˌbɛnts, -dɛs-]) is a German global automobile marque and a division of Daimler AG. The brand is known for luxury vehicles, buses, coaches, and trucks. The headquarters is in Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg. The name first appeared in 1926 under Daimler-Benz. In 2018, Mercedes-Benz was the biggest selling premium vehicle brand in the world, having sold 2.31 million passenger cars.Mercedes-Benz traces its origins to Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft's 1901 Mercedes and Karl Benz's 1886 Benz Patent-Motorwagen, which is widely regarded as the first gasoline-powered automobile. The slogan for the brand is "the best or nothing".Nissan
Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. (Japanese: 日産自動車株式会社, Hepburn: Nissan Jidōsha Kabushiki-gaisha), usually shortened to Nissan ( or UK: ; Japanese pronunciation: [ɲissaɴ]), is a Japanese multinational automobile manufacturer headquartered in Nishi-ku, Yokohama. The company sells its cars under the Nissan, Infiniti, and Datsun brands with in-house performance tuning products labelled Nismo. The company traces its name to the Nissan zaibatsu, now called Nissan Group.
Since 1999, Nissan has been part of the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance, a partnership between Nissan of Japan, Mitsubishi Motors of Japan and Renault of France. As of 2013, Renault holds a 43.4% voting stake in Nissan, while Nissan holds a 15% non-voting stake in Renault. From 2009 to 2017 Carlos Ghosn served as CEO of both companies. In February 2017 Ghosn announced he would step down as CEO of Nissan on 1 April 2017, while remaining chairman of the company. On 19 November 2018, Ghosn was fired as chairman following his arrest for the alleged underreporting of his income to Japanese financial authorities. After 108 days in detention, Ghosn was released on bail, but after 29 days he was again detained on new charges (4 April 2019). He'd been due to hold a news conference, but instead his lawyers released a video of Ghosn alleging this 2018-2019 Nissan scandal is itself evidence of value destruction and Nissan corporate mismanagement.In 2013, Nissan was the sixth largest automaker in the world, after Toyota, General Motors, Volkswagen Group, Hyundai Motor Group, and Ford. Taken together, the Renault–Nissan Alliance would be the world's fourth largest automaker. Nissan is the leading Japanese brand in China, Russia and Mexico.In 2014 Nissan was the largest car manufacturer in North America.Nissan is the world's largest electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer, with global sales of more than 320,000 all-electric vehicles as of April 2018. The top-selling vehicle of the car-maker's fully electric lineup is the Nissan LEAF, an all-electric car and the world's top-selling highway-capable plug-in electric car in history.
In January 2018, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa announced that all Infiniti vehicles launched from 2021 will be hybrid vehicles or all-electric vehicles.Sedan (automobile)
A sedan — also saloon — is a passenger car in a three-box configuration with separate compartments for engine, passenger, and cargo.Sedan's first recorded use as a name for a car body was in 1912. The name comes from a 17th-century development of a litter, the sedan chair, a one-person enclosed box with windows and carried by porters.
Variations of the sedan style of body include: close-coupled sedan, club sedan, convertible sedan, fastback sedan, hardtop sedan, notchback sedan and sedanet/sedanette.Tesla, Inc.
Tesla, Inc. (formerly Tesla Motors, Inc.) is an American automotive and energy company based in Palo Alto, California. The company specializes in electric car manufacturing and, through its SolarCity subsidiary, solar panel manufacturing. It operates multiple production and assembly plants, notably Gigafactory 1 near Reno, Nevada, and its main vehicle manufacturing facility at Tesla Factory in Fremont, California. As of March 2019, Tesla sells the Model S, Model X, and Model 3 automobiles. It is accepting reservations for the Model Y, Roadster (2020), and Semi vehicles. Tesla also sells Powerwall and Powerpack batteries, solar panels, solar roof tiles, and some related products.
Tesla was founded in July 2003, by engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, under the name Tesla Motors. The company's name is a tribute to engineer Nikola Tesla. In early Series A funding, Tesla Motors was joined by Elon Musk, J. B. Straubel and Ian Wright, all of whom are retroactively allowed to call themselves co-founders of the company. Musk, who formerly served as chairman and is the current chief executive officer, said that he envisioned Tesla Motors as a technology company and independent automaker, aimed at eventually offering electric cars at prices affordable to the average consumer. Tesla Motors shortened its name to Tesla in February 2017.
After 10 years in the market, Tesla ranked as the world's best selling plug-in passenger car manufacturer in 2018, both as a brand and by automotive group, with 245,240 units delivered and a market share of 12% of the plug-in segment sales. Tesla vehicle sales in the U.S. increased by 280% from 48,000 in 2017 to 182,400 in 2018, and globally were up by 138% from 2017.Top Gear (2002 TV series)
Top Gear is a British motoring magazine, factual television series, conceived by Jeremy Clarkson and Andy Wilman, launched on 20 October 2002, and broadcast in the United Kingdom on BBC Two. The programme is a relaunched version of the original 1977 show of the same name, which looks at various motor vehicles, primarily cars. While the original format focused mainly on review of cars, the 2002 version expanded on this with motoring-based challenges, special races, timed laps of notable cars, and celebrity timed laps on a course specially-designed for the relaunched programme, with its format developing over time to focus on a more quirky, humorous and sometimes controversial style of presentation. The programme has received acclaim for its visual style and presentation, as well as criticism for its content.Since 2002, the programme has been presented by several hosts. In its first series, the show's line-up was Clarkson, Richard Hammond and Jason Dawe, with Wilman as the show's executive producer, and introducing anonymous test driver "The Stig", an individual played by numerous racing drivers over the course of the show's history. Following the first series, Dawe was replaced by James May, with the line-up unchanged until the end of the twenty-second series, when the BBC chose to not renew Clarkson's contract on 25 March 2015, following an incident during filming. His dismissal from Top Gear prompted the departure of Hammond, May and Wilman from the programme, and led to them joining Clarkson in forming a new motoring series. For the twenty-third series, the programme was presented by Chris Evans and American Matt LeBlanc, with them joined by four co-presenters who would make occasional appearances during its run: Rory Reid, Sabine Schmitz, Chris Harris and Eddie Jordan. After negative feedback on this series led to Evans resigning from the programme, Harris and Reid became the main hosts alongside LeBlanc, with Schmitz and Jordan making occasional appearances as co-presenters, from the twenty-fourth series onwards. The twenty-seventh series features Chris Harris with new presenters Andrew Flintoff and Paddy McGuinness as the main presenters.
Top Gear has been one of the BBC's most commercially successful programmes since its relaunch. It has become a significant show in British popular culture, with episodes also broadcast internationally in many countries in Europe, North America, South-East Asia and more, making it the most widely broadcast factual television programme in the world. Its success has led to various forms of merchandising, including live tours, special DVD editions, and books, as well as spawning a variety of international versions in various countries, including the United States, Australia, South Korea, China and France.Traffic collision
A traffic collision, also called a motor vehicle collision (MVC) among other terms, occurs when a vehicle collides with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal, road debris, or other stationary obstruction, such as a tree, pole or building. Traffic collisions often result in injury, death, and property damage.
A number of factors contribute to the risk of collision, including vehicle design, speed of operation, road design, road environment, and driver skill, impairment due to alcohol or drugs, and behavior, notably distracted driving, speeding and street racing. Worldwide, motor vehicle collisions lead to death and disability as well as financial costs to both society and the individuals involved.
In 2013, 54 million people worldwide sustained injuries from traffic collisions. This resulted in 1.4 million deaths in 2013, up from 1.1 million deaths in 1990. About 68,000 of these occurred in children less than five years old. Almost all high-income countries have decreasing death rates, while the majority of low-income countries have increasing death rates due to traffic collisions. Middle-income countries have the highest rate with 20 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, accounting for 80% of all road fatalities with 52% of all vehicles. While the death rate in Africa is the highest (24.1 per 100,000 inhabitants), the lowest rate is to be found in Europe (10.3 per 100,000 inhabitants).Vehicle registration plate
A vehicle registration plate, also known as a number plate (British English) or a license plate (American English and Canadian English), is a metal or plastic plate attached to a motor vehicle or trailer for official identification purposes. All countries require registration plates for road vehicles such as cars, trucks, and motorcycles. Whether they are required for other vehicles, such as bicycles, boats, or tractors, may vary by jurisdiction. The registration identifier is a numeric or alphanumeric ID that uniquely identifies the vehicle owner within the issuing region's vehicle register. In some countries, the identifier is unique within the entire country, while in others it is unique within a state or province. Whether the identifier is associated with a vehicle or a person also varies by issuing agency. There are also electronic license plates.Volkswagen
Volkswagen (German: [ˈfɔlksˌvaːɡn̩] (listen); English: ), shortened to VW (German: [faʊ̯ ˈveː]), is a German automaker founded on 28 May 1937 by the German Labour Front, a Nazi labour union, and headquartered in Wolfsburg. It is the flagship marque of the Volkswagen Group, the largest automaker by worldwide sales in 2016 and 2017. The group's biggest market is in China, which delivers 40% of its sales and profits.Volkswagen translates to "people's car" in German. The company's current international advertising slogan is just "Volkswagen", referencing the name's meaning.Volkswagen Beetle
The Volkswagen Beetle—officially the Volkswagen Type 1, informally in German the Käfer (meaning "beetle"), in parts of the English-speaking world the Bug, and known by many other nicknames in other languages—is a two-door, rear-engine economy car, intended for five occupants (later, Beetles were restricted to four people in some countries), that was manufactured and marketed by German automaker Volkswagen (VW) from 1938 until 2003.The need for a people's car (Volkswagen in German), its concept and its functional objectives were formulated by the leader of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler, who wanted a cheap, simple car to be mass-produced for his country's new road network (Reichsautobahn). Members of the National Socialist party, with an additional dues surcharge, were promised the first production, but the war shifted production to military vehicles instead. Lead engineer Ferdinand Porsche and his team took until 1938 to finalise the design. Béla Barényi is credited with first conceiving the original design for this car in 1925, – notably by Mercedes-Benz, on their website, including his original technical drawing, – five years before Porsche claimed to have done his initial version. The influence on Porsche's design of other contemporary cars, such as the Tatra V570, and the work of Josef Ganz remains a subject of dispute. The result was the first Volkswagen, and one of the first rear-engined cars since the Brass Era. With 21,529,464 produced, the Beetle is the longest-running and most-manufactured car of a single platform ever made.
Although designed in the 1930s, due to World War II, civilian Beetles only began to be produced in significant numbers by the end of the 1940s. The car was then internally designated the Volkswagen Type 1, and marketed simply as the Volkswagen. Later models were designated Volkswagen 1200, 1300, 1500, 1302, or 1303, the former three indicating engine displacement, the latter two derived from the model number. The car became widely known in its home country as the Käfer (German for "beetle", cognate with English chafer) and was later marketed under that name in Germany, and as the Volkswagen in other countries. For example, in France it was known as the Coccinelle (French for ladybug).The original 25 hp Beetle was designed for a top speed around 100 km/h (62 mph), which would be a viable cruising speed on the Reichsautobahn system. As Autobahn speeds increased in the postwar years, its output was boosted to 36, then 40 hp, the configuration that lasted through 1966 and became the "classic" Volkswagen motor. The Beetle gave rise to multiple variants: mainly the 1950 Type 2 'Bus', the 1955 Karmann Ghia, as well as the 1961 Type 3 'Ponton' and the 1968 Type 4 (411/412) family cars, ultimately forming the basis of an entirely rear-engined VW product range. The Beetle thus marked a significant trend, led by Volkswagen, and then by Fiat and Renault, whereby the rear-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout increased from 2.6 percent of continental Western Europe's car production in 1946 to 26.6 percent in 1956. In 1959 even General Motors launched an air-cooled, rear-engined car, the Chevrolet Corvair — which even shared the Beetle's flat engine and swing axle architecture.
Over time, front-wheel drive, and frequently hatchback-bodied cars would come to dominate the European small-car market. In 1974, Volkswagen's own front-wheel drive Golf hatchback succeeded the Beetle. In 1994, Volkswagen unveiled the Concept One, a "retro"-themed concept car with a resemblance to the original Beetle, and in 1998 introduced the "New Beetle", built on the contemporary Golf platform with styling recalling the original Type 1. It remained in production through 2010, and was succeeded in 2011 by the Beetle (A5), which was also more reminiscent of the original Beetle.
In the 1999 Car of the Century competition, to determine the world's most influential car in the 20th century, the Type 1 came fourth, after the Ford Model T, the Mini, and the Citroën DS.
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