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Saturday, August 9, 2008

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Ford Model T, 1927, regarded as the first affordable American automobile

Since the 1920s, nearly all cars have been mass-produced to meet market needs, so marketing plans often have heavily influenced automobile design. It was Alfred P. Sloan who established the idea of different makes of cars produced by one company, so 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 drivetrains 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.[16]

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 practise 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.[16] 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.[16]

See also: Automotive industry

Fuel and propulsion technologies

Auto rickshaws in New Delhi run on Compressed Natural Gas

A CNG powered high-floor Neoplan AN440A, run on Compressed Natural Gas

See also: Alternative fuel vehicle

Most automobiles in use today are propelled by gasoline (also known as petrol) or diesel internal combustion engines, which are known to cause air pollution and are also blamed for contributing to climate change and global warming.[17] Increasing costs of oil-based fuels, tightening environmental laws and restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions are propelling work on alternative power systems for automobiles. Efforts to improve or replace existing technologies include the development of hybrid vehicles, and electric and hydrogen vehicles which do not release pollution into the air.

Diesel

Main article: Diesel engine

Diesel-engined cars have long been popular in Europe with the first models being introduced in the 1930s by Mercedes Benz and Citroen. The main benefit of diesel engines is a 50% fuel burn efficiency compared with 27%[18] in the best gasoline engines. A down-side of the diesel is the presence in the exhaust gases of fine soot particulates and manufacturers are now starting to fit filters to remove these. Many diesel-powered cars can also run with little or no modifications on 100% biodiesel.

Gasoline

Main article: Petrol engine

2007 Mark II (BMW) Mini Cooper

Gasoline engines have the advantage over diesel in being lighter and able to work at higher rotational speeds and they are the usual choice for fitting in high-performance sports cars. Continuous development of gasoline engines for over a hundred years has produced improvements in efficiency and reduced pollution. The carburetor was used on nearly all road car engines until the 1980s but it was long realised better control of the fuel/air mixture could be achieved with fuel injection. Indirect fuel injection was first used in aircraft engines from 1909, inBrazil), but vehicles must be started on pure gasoline and switched over to ethanol once the engine is running. Most gasoline engined cars can also run on LPG with the addition of an LPG tank for fuel storage and carburetion modifications to add an LPG mixer. LPG produces fewer toxic emissions and is a popular fuel for fork lift trucks that have to operate inside buildings. racing car engines from the 1930s, and road cars from the late 1950s.[18] Gasoline Direct Injection (GDI) is now starting to appear in production vehicles such as the 2007 (Mark II) BMW Mini. Exhaust gases are also cleaned up by fitting a catalytic converter into the exhaust system. Clean air legislation in many of the car industries most important markets has made both catalysts and fuel injection virtually universal fittings. Most modern gasoline engines also are capable of running with up to 15% ethanol mixed into the gasoline - older vehicles may have seals and hoses that can be harmed by ethanol. With a small amount of redesign, gasoline-powered vehicles can run on ethanol concentrations as high as 85%. 100% ethanol is used in some parts of the world (such as

The hydrogen powered FCHV (Fuel Cell Hybrid Vehicle) was developed by Toyota in 2005

Bioalcohols and biogasoline

Ethanol, other alcohol fuels (biobutanol) and biogasoline have widespread use an automotive fuel. Most alcohols have less energy per liter than gasoline and are usually blended with gasoline. Alcohols are used for a variety of reasons - to increase octane, to improve emissions, and as an alternative to petroleum based fuel, since they can be made from agricultural crops. Brazil's ethanol program provides about 20% of the nations automotive fuel needs, including several million cars that operate on pure ethanol.

Electric

Main articles: Battery electric vehicle, Hybrid vehicle, and Plug-in hybrid

The Henney Kilowatt, the first modern (transistor-controlled) electric car.

2007 Tesla electric powered Roadster

The first electric cars were built around 1832, well before internal combustion powered cars appeared.[19] For a period of time electrics were considered superior due to the silent nature of electric motors compared to the very loud noise of the gasoline engine. This advantage was removed with Hiram Percy Maxim's invention of the muffler in 1897. Thereafter internal combustion powered cars had two critical advantages: 1) long range and 2) high specific energy (far lower weight of petrol fuel versus weight of batteries). The building of battery electric vehicles that could rival internal combustion models had to wait for the introduction of modern semiconductor controls and improved batteries. Because they can deliver a high torque at low revolutions electric cars do not require such a complex drive train and transmission as internal combustion powered cars. Some post-2000 electric car designs such as the Venturi Fétish are able to accelerate from 0-60 mph (96 km/h) in 4.0 seconds with a top speed around 130 mph210 km/h). Others have a range of 250 miles (400 km) on the EPA highway cycle requiring 3-1/2 hours to completely charge[20]. Equivalent fuel efficiency to internal combustion is not well defined but some press reports give it at around 135 mpg–U.S. (1.74 L/100 km / 162.1 mpg–imp). (

Steam

Main article: steam car

Steam power, usually using an oil- or gas-heated boiler, was also in use until the 1930s but had the major disadvantage of being unable to power the car until boiler pressure was available (although the newer models could achieve this in well under a minute). It has the advantage of being able to produce very low emissions as the combustion process can be carefully controlled. Its disadvantages include poor heat efficiency and extensive requirements for electric auxiliaries.[21]

Air

Main article: Compressed-air car

Tata/MDI OneCAT Air Car

A compressed air car is an alternative fuel car that uses a motor powered by compressed air. The car can be powered solely by air, or by air combined (as in a hybrid electric vehicle) with gasoline/diesel/ethanol or electric plant and regenerative braking. Instead of mixing fuel with air and burning it to drive pistons with hot expanding gases; compressed air cars use the expansion of compressed air to drive their pistons. Several prototypes are available already and scheduled for worldwide sale by the end of 2008. Companies releasing this type of car include Tata Motors and Motor Development International (MDI).

Gas turbine

In the 1950s there was a brief interest in using gas turbine (jet) engines and several makers including Rover and Chrysler produced prototypes. In spite of the power units being very compact, high fuel consumption, severe delay in throttle response, and lack of engine braking meant no cars reached production.

Rotary (Wankel) engines

Rotary Wankel engines were introduced into road cars by NSU with the Ro 80 and later were seen in the Citroën GS Birotor and several Mazda models. In spite of their impressive smoothness, poor reliability and fuel economy led to them largely disappearing. Mazda, beginning with the R100 then RX-2, has continued research on these engines, overcoming most of the earlier problems with the RX-7 and RX-8.

Rocket and jet cars