Automobiles, also known as cars or motor vehicles are wheeled vehicles designed to run primarily on roads and carry passengers. They are commonly propelled by an internal combustion engine using a volatile fuel. Modern automobiles are complex technical systems employing thousands of subsystems with specific design functions. They have evolved from breakthroughs in existing technology such as electronic computers and high-strength plastics, and from new technologies such as advanced alloys of steel and nonferrous metals. The automobile is now a common mode of personal transportation with an estimated global fleet of more than one billion vehicles in operation.
Modern life is almost inconceivable without access to an automobile. Over the course of 20th century, cars became the primary means of transport in developed countries. The development of the automobile caused significant changes to society, industry and everyday life. The car allowed people to travel long distances and paved the way for suburbs and cities. In addition, it gave families more freedom and leisure time as well as the opportunity to expand their social circle and work opportunities.
The first automobiles were powered by steam, electricity or gasoline. By the end of the 19th century, the gas-powered automobile had emerged as the dominant form of passenger transport in most countries. Steam-powered cars could go fast but they lacked maneuverability and were difficult to start. Electric cars could travel a limited distance on battery power but their recharging stations were inconvenient to locate and slow. Gasoline powered cars, on the other hand, were easy to start and had a range sufficient for most daily trips.
In America, Henry Ford introduced production techniques such as the assembly line that greatly increased car production and made it affordable for most middle class families to afford. As a result, the car became the primary means of transportation in the United States. It revolutionized industrial manufacturing and led to the creation of many industries and jobs. In addition, the automobile provided Americans with greater independence and personal freedom, as well as created a wide variety of services like gas stations and convenience stores.
The automobile has also caused problems for the environment and public health. It contributes to air pollution which can cause respiratory problems for humans. It also releases toxic lead from batteries into the environment which can poison wildlife and contaminate water. It also causes environmental degradation when it is trashed, as plastic and other materials leak into the soil and waterways.
Despite these problems, the automobile has become an integral part of most people’s lives and provides many benefits that are not available with other forms of transportation. People spend an average of three trillion miles per year in their cars. Having a car allows you to travel quickly and efficiently and saves hours of time that would be spent waiting for public transportation. Additionally, having a car provides safety and security when traveling late at night.