The gasoline-powered automobile was introduced in the 1880s, but by the time it reached its first century, it had already become implicated in a range of environmental problems. As the largest, most complex consumer good, the consumption of auto-mobility is also often one of the areas of greatest impact of personal consumption patterns in industrialized nations. Initially, industry saw the environmental debate as yet another temporary fad that could be addressed by technology and then quietly forgotten. Over the years, the scope of the debate widened to include other issues such as energy use, raw materials use, traffic congestion, and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as end-of-life issues such as recycling, reuse, and vehicle durability. As a result, a more global assessment of the car's impact became possible, leading to a so-called life cycle approach to the problem.
Implications of Gasoline Car on Environment
After the initial environmental concerns surrounding the motor car, the spread of motorization largely marginalized the critics. Environmental concerns resurfaced in a different form at times of crisis. Shortages of cars and fuel during World War II led to various alternative solutions. Conventional cars were converted to run on gas generated from coal or wood via a heavy apparatus fitted to the front or rear of the vehicle. A small revival of electric vehicles also occurred, as these were less dependent on imported oil, whereas others opted for human power. Aircraft pioneer and luxury carmaker Gabriel Voisin produced a pedal car for his own use during the German occupation, which even carried a smaller version of the “cocotte” radiator mascot of his cars.
A second wave of renewed interest in the environment came in the wake of the hippy era of the late 1960s. Social movements at this time rejected the established value system. Rachel Carson's landmark book Silent Spring (1962), an indictment of the overuse of harmful chemicals in agriculture, as well as the growing air pollution problem, started a new concern for the way human activity affects our natural environment, which made a proper fit with 1960s philosophy. At the same time, new concerns about traffic congestion led to a series of experimental “city” cars. Many of these, such as Ford's Comuta of 1967, were powered by electricity. This period saw the first wave of environmental legislation affecting the car, with California adopting a pioneering role.
The next wave of environmental concern was probably more of a reinforcement of trends started in the preceding decade. The energy crises of 1973-74 and 1979 concentrated the minds of the industry Deal, 2010, 15). The psychological effect was perhaps greatest in the United States, where energy use had never been an issue. Now real shortages at the pumps and the realization that America's mobility was largely in the hands of petty Middle Eastern powers, lead to real change. First of all, the market share of more fuel-efficient European and especially Japanese products increased markedly. Second, U.S. carmakers hastily introduced a product “downsizing” ...