Automobiles are wheeled motor vehicles used to transport people and cargo. Most modern automobiles run on gas, which is burned in an internal combustion engine to generate the energy that propels them. Some special cars are designed for specific purposes, such as crane vehicles at construction sites and fork-lifts in warehouses. People depend on automobiles to commute to work and school, go shopping and take family vacations. It is hard to imagine a world without them.
The history of the automobile is a fascinating story. Many different inventors and engineers have contributed to its development, but Karl Benz is often credited with creating the first true automobile in 1885. His Benz Patent-Motorwagen was the very first car to be produced and sold commercially. Later, Henry Ford revolutionized the manufacturing process by developing the assembly line. This allowed manufacturers to produce more models with lower prices. This made cars affordable to middle-class families.
During the first decades of the twentieth century, America’s auto industry was booming. Many new jobs were created to manufacture the vehicles and to build the roads they traveled on. Industries grew to provide the fuel for the engines, rubber and then plastics were used for tires, and services like gas stations and convenience stores appeared. Cities grew and suburban neighborhoods were built to accommodate the growing numbers of cars on America’s streets.
As the century progressed, the automobile became a force that shaped American society in ways that no other technological advance had before it. It paved the way for urbanization, brought the comforts of modern life to rural areas, and changed the architecture of the American house. The automobile also ended rural isolation and introduced city amenities, such as schools and hospitals, to small towns. It has radically altered the nature of work, transformed the family structure and the definition of the home, and changed the way people live their lives.
Automobiles have made a huge impact on the world today, and are still a vital part of society. They make it possible for people to travel quickly and efficiently around the country. They also help to save on transportation costs, and can be a lot safer than taking public transit or taxis. The only downside of having an automobile is that it can be expensive, especially if you’re not careful.
In the postwar era, engineering was subordinated to the questionable aesthetics of nonfunctional styling and quality declined to the point where, by the mid-1960s, the average American-made car was being delivered to retail buyers with twenty-four defects per unit. Increasingly stringent safety standards and rising gasoline prices are now forcing Detroit to rethink the old paradigm of the gas-guzzling road cruiser. New forces are now shaping the future of the Automobile Age, which is rapidly melding into a new age of electronics.