By Alex Perdikis
Imagine having to ride a horse everywhere you want to go. You don’t do it because you want to, but because you have to. And, so does everyone else. You wouldn’t travel many miles in a day, and your world would be much smaller than it is now.
All of that changed with the invention of the motor car. Cars had a profound effect on the day-to-day lives of people and how countries around the world operated.
How It All Began
The first motorized vehicles were too expensive for anyone but the most wealthy to purchase. Henry Ford’s Model-T sparked a revolution for the working class, though. Ford decided that in order to get the Model-T into the hands of everyday working people, he had to find a way to manufacture cars much faster and less expensively.
That’s when Ford came up with the assembly line production method. Workers were trained in only one or two steps of the production, making it a much faster process. To further speed auto manufacturing, Ford decided to have workers stay in place and move the assembly line. Less expensive and quicker to build, Ford offered his Model-Ts at a price most people could afford.
Ford’s large-scale production model became, and still is, the standard in cost-effective mass manufacturing.
Before cars became commonplace, most people lived their entire lives a few miles from where they were born. Moving longer distances became much easier with a car.
“Leisure time also changed. Automobile travelers could go longer distances and see different parts of the country than in the days of train travel and horses and buggies.”
— Alex Perdikis
Of course, roads were rough in the early days. But as more and more people bought cars, the demand for better roads increased. Soon, people were moving to different locations for work, to start a new life or for fun.
Car Manufacturing Altered the Economy
Not only were people buying cars, fuel and automotive accessories but producing cars changed the economy in a big way. The auto manufacturing industry employed workers and fueled other industries, including gas and oil.
It Wasn’t All Roses
Of course, the public’s quick adoption of motorized vehicles wasn’t without its problems. In the beginning, there were few regulations and no road signs. Roads still accommodated both motorized vehicles and horses. Numerous accidents occurred in the early days when horses either bolted in fear when they encountered a car or horse and car collided.
Motorized vehicles also caused numerous pedestrian injuries and deaths.
Laws and signs gradually caught up with the adoption of cars, but as the auto industry grew other sectors of the economy took a hit. Buggy manufacturer and horse trader businesses either adapted some way or shut down.
Time Moves On
Cars changed the course of countries around the world, but none more than the United States. As times changed, car manufacturing changed as well. Technological advances and environmental concerns mean that cars today are more energy-efficient and safer than ever.
What does the future hold? Will self-driving cars become the norm? How about electric cars? Only time will tell.
Alex Perdikis, Koons of Silver Spring general manager and owner, lives in Chevy Chase with his wife and daughters.