Automobiles are a vital part of modern society. They enable people to travel farther distances in a shorter period of time and to do more things than they could otherwise do by walking or using public transportation. The automobile has also revolutionized industry and technology and the way we live our lives. It has made possible new jobs in the manufacture of parts and components for cars. Industries have sprung up to supply petroleum and gasoline, rubber and later plastics for tires and car bodies. Services such as gas stations and convenience stores have been developed. Hundreds of thousands of miles of highways have been built.
There are about 1.4 billion motor vehicles in operation worldwide today. Of these, about one-quarter are in the United States, traveling more than three trillion miles (five trillion kilometres) each year. The average American drives almost three thousand miles each year, or about forty-five million kilometres.
The automobile has transformed America in many ways. For example, it has given Americans more freedom to do the things they want to do, such as visit their relatives and friends. It has also changed the way people work, because they can get to their jobs more quickly and conveniently than they did before. It has also helped to create more jobs, especially in the service sector of the economy, where companies hire lots of people to help keep the automobiles running and to provide maintenance.
Exactly when and how the automobile was invented is not known for sure. But historians usually credit Karl Benz with inventing the first true automobile in 1885. Benz was an engineer. He designed and built a small car with a petrol (gasoline) engine. Other inventors and engineers designed and built more advanced versions of the automobile.
By the early 1900s, Americans had come to dominate the automotive industry because of innovations like Ford’s assembly line, which made it easier and less expensive to produce cars. As a result, a whole new middle class could afford to own cars.
In the 1920s, automobiles became a major force for change in twentieth century America. They gave women more independence and allowed them to travel around the country for social, political and economic activities. Some women even went on long trips in their own cars to campaign for the right to vote. They decorated their cars with banners saying “votes for women.”
Today, new technical developments are recognized as the key to successful competition in the automobile industry. Research and development engineers work on improving the design, safety, fuel efficiency and emissions of automobiles. Some of the branches of engineering that deal with automobiles are automotive design, automobile body, chassis, transmission, drive train and engine, as well as electrical and control systems. There are also a lot of different types of automobiles – from sports cars to hybrids and electric vehicles. Each type has its own advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the right one for you depends on your needs and budget.