The Magnificent Machines
One can never imagine a world without cars. The automobile has become the very fabric of our lives. In 1881 when the iconic Gustav Trouve demonstrated a three wheeled automobile in Paris, the world changed forever. The automobile is not just one of the greatest innovations of mankind, it not just about transporting people from one place to another, but in fact it is the freedom that it offers. The freedom to go anywhere at any time, that is what defines every human. And that is why there are roughly 805 million cars worldwide. That is one car for every 11 person in the world!
The Industrial Revolution
The global economy in many ways is connected to the automobile industry. In 2008, people acquired 70 million cars worldwide. This means the use of energy that drives the cars such as petroleum; in 2008, the world burnt 10 billion gallons of petroleum globally and since 1 gallon of oil costs five dollars – this is what gives the world its single most important economy.
The automobiles industry is spread right across the world. In over 75 countries cars are produced or assembled catering to a global demand of over 50 million automobiles. In growing economies like China and India, automobile sales out strips just about everything else in terms of manufacturing. As technology has improved over the years so has design and manufacturing of cars. There are cars that come with its own microchip and artificial intelligence.
But for a majority of people, it is the pride of owning your own car which cannot be matched with anything else.
The Need for Design and Speed
It is the artistic element in design which easily captures the imagination of people. Elegance and classic design of a Bentley or Rolls Royce car is to move people and turn heads. People look in awe at beautiful car designs more than any other.
The of course there is speed, driving a sports car like a Ferrari or a Lamborghini is surely a global aspiration and desire. The thrill of driving at very high speeds has created a parallel industry in motor sports like Indy 500 and Formula 1.
In a survey done in 2009 by Lifestyle magazine Vanity Fair, 87% of the people voted for driving a Ferrari to having sex.
The Inconvenient Truth
There is also a negative side to automobiles. An argument which even though one sided requires attention.
- 80% of all global fatalities are related to automobile accidents. In fact it is also a huge cost in terms of medical and legal is estimated at over 200 billion dollars in the US
- The energy demand for petroleum has ensured a global supply of one of our planets most precious natural resources. At an estimated 250 billion gallons a year, the impact on our environment has been brutal
There are of course higher safety regulations being strictly followed all over the world, but automobiles still remain a global killer
The protection of our environment has prompted a new industry in the last 5 years for using alternative fuels such as Hydrogen and other hybrid forms of petroleum. However it is still a drop in the ocean.