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The history of the automobile brands

Steam engine
In the beginning, cars were equipped with a steam engine. In 2007 it was announced that they had succeeded in having a car run on compressed air, the Air Car.

A crash test with a Hyundai Tucson GLS
The first traffic victim was Mary Ward. She lost her life on 31 August 1869 when she was thrown out of a steam car and ended up under the wheels. The first pedestrian to die of a car accident was Bridget Driscoll, who lost her life on 17 August 1896 in London. In the past, no attention was paid to safety. Cars had to be reliable and robust. It did happen that after a collision a car only had paintwork damage, but the occupants were dead. In the 1960s, under pressure from Ralph Nader and a number of activists, the first safety legislation was adopted.

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Today, 50 million people are injured every year and more than 1 million people die as a result of car accidents. In the Netherlands, 800 people die on the roads every year; in Belgium, 1,200 people die on the roads. In order to reduce the number of fatalities, the government promotes road safety by means of information, legislation and regulations and a policy of fines. Cars themselves are equipped with both active and passive safety features. On the basis of EuroNCAP’s crash tests, European cars are assessed for their safety. The highest EuroNCAP rating ever was awarded to the Alfa Romeo Giulia with a score of 98% (overall score: 5 stars).

Self-propelled car
In 2017, the Dutch government approved the Experimental Act on Self-propelled Vehicles, which makes it possible to carry out experiments on self-propelled vehicles without a driver in the Netherlands. Manufacturers will have more opportunities to test with self-propelled vehicles with a remote driver.

Cars with an internal combustion engine consume (often fossil) fuels and emit harmful gases, including the greenhouse gas CO2. Fossil fuels are finite (i.e. they run out at some point), and greenhouse gases cause global warming. The government is therefore trying to reduce the use of fossil fuels and is promoting the use of cars with lower fuel consumption, for example by introducing energy labels. In the Netherlands, cars that emit less than 110 grams of CO2 per kilometre have been exempt from motor vehicle tax (‘road tax’, a holding tax) and BPM (purchase tax) since 1 January 2010. In order to reduce the burden on the environment, the use of hybrid and fully electric cars is encouraged by the government.

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In addition to BPM and road tax, various excise duties and a high percentage of turnover tax on fuel are also levied. The total tax on fuels in Belgium and the Netherlands amounts to more than half of the selling price. Japan has a similar situation. This is why European and Japanese cars are generally more economical than those from the United States, where the tax burden is much lower.

As a result of the climate agreement concluded tomorrow, from 2030 onwards, no new cars will be sold in the Netherlands that emit greenhouse gases.

Traffic jams
Traffic jams are a major problem throughout the world. Not only is it bad for the environment, it is also bad for the economy and the state of mind (stress, road-rage). Different governments react differently to the problem. Solutions that are offered (temporarily) are the widening of existing roads, the construction of new roads, the encouragement of the use of public transport, the encouragement of car-pooling and making the use of the car more expensive.

Automobile brands
1rightarrow blue.svg See the list of car brands for the main article on this subject.
At this moment there are about 1000 car brands active all over the world, where we mean by car brand a company that has built at least one car in its entire history, this is without tuning companies and armor companies but including design studios that have only made one or more prototypes.

Both in Belgium and in the Netherlands, between 50 and 100 brands of the current 1000 are sold. Sixteen car brands are active in the Netherlands, Belgium has five of its own active brands and in Suriname there are no car brand headquarters yet. The presence of car brands varies greatly from country to country.

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Influence of the car
The car has made a big change in several areas. Things like safety, the environment, but also things like infrastructure, architecture and the like can be thought of.


1975 BMW 3.0 CSL, “BMW Art Car”, painted by Alexander Calder
The car has influenced various art movements in the 20th century.

The car plays a leading role as a character in the short novel Knorrende dieren (1933) by Ferdinand Bordewijk, the Disney films about Herbie (from 1969), the thriller, and so on.