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There are now over one billion automobiles on the road worldwide. An explosion in the auto markets in China and India ensures that number will increase, with China supplanting the United States as the world's largest car market. It's fair to say humanity has a love affair with the car, but it's a love-hate relationship. Cars are at once convenience, art, and menace. People write songs about their vehicles, put them in museums, race them, and wrap their identities up in them. About 15% of carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels comes from cars. Traffic fatality estimates vary from half a million per year to more than double that. Gathered here are images of the automobile in many forms, and our relationship to and dependence on our cars. This is the second in an occasional Big Picture series on transportation, following Pedal power earlier this year. -- Lane Turner (40 photos total)
Antti Rahko stands next to his self-made "Finnjet" during preparations for the Essen Motor Show in Essen, Germany on November 22, 2012. The car rolls on eight wheels, offers ten seats, weighs 3.4 tons and is worth about one million US dollars. (Marius Becker/AFP/Getty Images)

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There’s a reason why Elon Musk is being called the next Steve Jobs. Like Jobs he’s a visionary, a super successful serial entrepreneur having made his initial fortune with a company he sold to Compaq before starting Paypal. Like Jobs, he saved his beloved baby Tesla Motors from the brink of oblivion. Like Jobs, he’s a genius generalist with “huge steel balls” (according to his ex-wife) and a knack for paradigm-shifting industry disruption. Which means he’s also hard to work with. “Like Jobs, Elon does not tolerate C or D players,” SpaceX board member and early Tesla investor Steve Jurvetson told BusinessWeek.

But while Jobs was slinging multi-colored music players and touchable smartphones, Musk is building rocket ships and electric-powered supercars. It’s why his friends describe him as not just Steve Jobs but also John D. Rockefeller and Howard Hughes all wrapped in one. His friend Jon Favreau used Musk as the real-life inspiration for the big screen version of Tony Stark. Elon Musk is a badass.

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New cabs hitting the streets of New York City next year will have charging ports for riders' electronics. They'll also have more leg room, a large skylight roof to gaze at the city skyscrapers and even odor-reducing and anti-microbial fabric to help deal with, well, you know, anything you might smell in the backseat of a cab.

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