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How The Automobile Can Again Transform Society

Throughout the course of human history, several inventions have transformed the way human beings move. The invention of the wheel and advancements in aviation have left indelible marks on the course of human history. In the past century, there are few developments that have been as influential in improving the quality of day-to-day life than the automobile. According to Business Insider, “The car is about to transform society – for the second time.”

At the beginning of the 20th Century, the success of the automobile was far from guaranteed. At the time, some felt that the automobile was nothing more than a passing fad and that the horse would remain the primary mode of transportation. However, after the introduction of the Model T, which made transportation affordable to the average American, the automobile quickly became a mainstay in everyday life. According to Business Insider, “American households with automobiles went from essentially zero in 1900 to 93 percent in 1929.”

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More than a century later, the automobile continues to have a major impact on daily life. While some have predicted a decline in individual car ownership, the demand for automobiles shows no signs of slowing. A McKinsey report predicts that annual new vehicle sales will increase from 70 million in 2010 to 125 million by 2025. It is clear that the automobile will continue to be the primary means of transportation for years to come.

Many argue that the automobile has had the single greatest impact on transportation, yet is it possible that automobiles can again transform society? One major way vehicles can have an even greater transformative effect is by offering more affordable means of transportation. A Harvard study has recently highlighted the vital importance of access to affordable forms of transportation. Individuals without access to affordable transportation are much more likely to live in poverty. The study found that “The relationship between transportation and social mobility is stronger than that between mobility and several other factors, like crime, elementary-school test scores or the percentage of two-parent families in a community.” Affordable transportation can make a significant impact on the fight to eradicate poverty.

When discussing the topic of affordable transportation, many point to public transportation as a solution. While taking the bus or subway is a viable alternative in some cities, many others lack the necessary infrastructure.  For impoverished individuals living in rural areas, public transportation is not a practical option. An affordable vehicle can make a meaningful difference for people struggling to keep up with rising costs in both urban and rural areas.

While affordable transportation can make a significant impact on society, Business Insider believes “What we’re talking about now isn’t really a wholesale transformation of mobility; it’s really more of an evolution.” In recent years, both new and used car prices have reached record highs, leaving many to struggle with increasing transportation costs. Similar to the Model T in the last century, an inexpensive vehicle can again transform society by making mobility affordable for all.

 

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