Automobiles are four-wheeled vehicles that carry people and/or cargo. They are often called cars but the term can also refer to buses, wagons or coaches. The automobile has changed our lives dramatically in the twentieth century. It has become the backbone of a new consumer goods-oriented society, and it has provided jobs to millions of Americans. It has spawned industries in steel, petroleum, tires and ancillary products. It has brought us the freedom to shop, visit friends and family, and travel long distances for work and recreation.
The scientific and technical building blocks of the modern automobile go back several hundred years. In the late 1600s, Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens invented a type of internal combustion engine sparked by gunpowder. This was the earliest version of the automobile.
Ransom Eli Olds debuted the first production-line assembly of affordable automobiles at his Oldsmobile factory in 1902. Henry Ford’s innovations for mass-production revolutionized the industry in the 1920s. Today automobile manufacturing is a worldwide enterprise.
One of the main advantages of owning an automobile is convenience. Cars can get you to your destination faster than public transportation. They are also more comfortable, allowing you to listen to the radio, use the air conditioning or heat and take more luggage. In addition, you can be spontaneous because you can leave whenever you want without waiting for a bus or taxi.
The automobile has also opened up the world. Urban dwellers can rediscover pristine landscapes. Family members can drive to vacation spots. Teenagers can shop in town or have more dating opportunities. The automobile has made our world seem smaller, but it has also brought problems. Traffic congestion and traffic accidents led to government requirements for licenses, safety features and highway rules. Exhaust from gas-burning vehicles contributed to pollution. It has also contributed to the loss of open space.
Whether it is a sedan (with two doors) or a station wagon, an SUV or a van, the automobile provides the opportunity to choose a style that fits your personality and lifestyle. You can even personalize it with your own paint job or accessories. It is a true extension of your personality.
There is a wide variety of automotive technology, ranging from the traditional piston and crankshaft design to the Wankel rotary engine developed by Mazda. But, the gasoline-electric hybrid engine, which combines the best of both worlds, is perhaps the most significant development for the future. This technology will make the automobile more environmentally friendly, save energy and provide a better fuel economy. Depending on the model, it may also provide an alternative to reducing dependence on oil. The newest models will also provide greater driving ranges than previous gasoline-only vehicles. Combined with the lower maintenance costs, these factors will make automobiles more appealing than ever. By the 21st century, they will be the preferred form of transportation for most people. This will have a huge effect on our environment, as well as our economic and social structure.