Environmental Engineering Reference
In-Depth Information
The fears of car safety and pollution in the 1960s were followed by
the sudden oil crisis of the early 1970s. The anti-car lobby viewed the
car as a bad symbol of modern life to be attacked rather than adored
but in the 1950s there was an optimism and exuberance that pushed the
design of automobiles beyond aesthetic limits. The oil crisis produced
a movement towards economy and utility, as manufacturers moved
to make cars more functional. Style was succeeded by aero aesthetics
mainly for fuel efficiency. Manufacturers found themselves working
with more regulations and safety related data.
Japan played a major role in the new range of automobiles which
included the sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and their variations. Different
market sectors required different types of cars. These ideas in Japan
spread to the United States and Europe and the car became a lifestyle
Technology provided new materials, safety systems and new forms
of in-car communications as car manufacturing became increasingly
global. In the U.S., masculine cars saw a revival while Japan, with its
congested cities, developed new minicars. Microcars from Japan and
Korea in the 1990s, included the Suzuki Wagon, Daihatsu Move and
Daewoo Matiz. Mitsubishi was producing cars in the 1920s while Nissan
and Toyota built cars in the 1930s. The Toyota model AA of 1936 was
modeled after the Chrysler De Soto Airflow.
The fuel crisis of the 1970s started a movement in car design towards
more utilitarian vehicles. Technological aspects were widespread and
consumers would no longer make purchasing decisions on this basis
alone. It became difficult to distinguish between the different models. A
new emotionalism had entered the world of car purchasing and symbolic
meanings acquired a new level of importance for consumers.
In 1900, there were only a few thousand motor vehicles in the
United States and the public had a choice between steam, electric, or
gasoline automobiles. A gasoline-based transportation system was not
a foregone conclusion. The public had become used to horses and the
image of sitting near a boiler, battery or gas tank and moving by a series
of explosions, was not attractive.
More than a century later, auto transportation may be at a
similar crossroads, with competing technologies in various stages of
development. Just as in 1900, there can be many turns in the road as
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