The design of wheels
of the earliest cars was borrowed from horse carriages and bicycles. The idea of fitting a bicycle wheel in an automobile seems ludicrous today. However, auto makers considered the car as a natural extension to horse carriages and bicycles. Hence, inventors used the same model and design to propel cars as well. That is the reason why the earliest machine powered vehicles looked more like a horse carriages fitted with an engine than as modern automobiles as we know.
The primary reason why the design of the wheel changed was because of the rising demand of cars. The first decade of the twentieth century, demand for cars was constantly rising while the manufacturing process was not suited to connected to such high demand. The aching our car involved Labour of numerous persons a former and set the stage. This made cars very expensive and slow to manufacture. Car manufacturers realize that they could save a lot on cots as well as some time required to make the Crore. Reduced the size of the deals and faded the same inside the structure of the automobile and having it jutting out of the automobile.
It was not until the 1920's that metal wheel became the norm. Until then, wood was the first choice amongst car manufacturers for making wheels. Wood is particularly unsuited for the task of carrying heavy loads at high speeds. These wheels cracked and got chipped and required a lot of care and maintenance. This was another reason why buying and maintaining a car was very expensive. The assembly line technique changed the way cars were built. However, makers realized that the cost of the car had to come down if at all cars were to become popular. When the masses saw compact metal wheels instead of wooden wheels in their cars, they liked what they saw. This led to the beginning of the automobile revolution on steel wheels.
The First World War did not have a significant impact on the automobile industry except for the fact that production was affected due to shortage of raw materials. The Depression had a bigger impact. However, the Second World War saw the complete shutdown of the automobile industry. At one point of time, civilian automobile production was completely shut down and all work was done for the military. Of course, this did not mean that research on wheels and tires stopped. The military wanted better tires on stronger wheels so that jeeps and trucks would need less wheel related maintenance on the battle front.
The experience that auto manufacturers gained during the war was applied to provide better and better wheels to car purchasers after the war. Alloy wheels, chrome wheels, use of the ornaments - cars suddenly became an extension of one's owns personality. The fact that we still find people opting for chrome wheels fifty years after it was first introduced indicates the importance people attach to appearance of their cars.
The 1980's saw the growth of the aftermarket car wheel industry. The original wheel makers hated this because people were getting same or better quality wheels at a significantly lower cost. Competition breeds efficiency. This was the case with the wheel industry as well.
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