An automobile, also called a car, is a four-wheeled motor vehicle used to transport passengers that is self-propelled by an internal combustion engine powered mostly by gasoline, a liquid petroleum fuel. The history of the modern car began with German inventor Karl Benz’s Benz Patent-Motorwagen in 1886. The automobile revolutionized travel, commerce and leisure activities. It brought people closer together, increased opportunities for entertainment and recreational activities and created new industries such as hotels and motels. However, the automobile has also caused harm to the environment through air pollution and the use of undeveloped land for roads and parking lots.
Pros: AUTOMOBILES SAVE TIME. Being able to drive quickly and easily across town or across the country saves time in daily commutes, grocery trips, shopping or visiting friends and family. Time is a precious commodity that many people seem to be short of, and having a car allows you to spend more of it doing the things you love.
Cons: Cars require regular maintenance, such as fluid changes and engine tune-ups. They also produce harmful greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change. If you are concerned about environmental issues, you can purchase a hybrid or electric vehicle, which emit significantly less pollution than a gas-powered car. Alternatively, you can limit your exposure by riding a bicycle or walking to work.
Automakers are constantly working to improve the cars they produce. New technical developments include improvements to the body, chassis, engine, fuel systems and electrical components. Some of these technologies are the result of new scientific discoveries or advances in technology such as electronic computers, high-strength plastics and advanced alloys of steel and nonferrous metals.
Initially, most automobiles were expensive. By the end of the nineteenth century, they had become mass-produced and affordable to many middle-class families. The most influential development in the automotive industry came from businessman and engineer Henry Ford, who introduced the assembly line to his company’s Highland Park, Michigan plant in 1910. This innovation enabled the manufacture of one basic model that was customized for each customer, reducing costs and making the car accessible to a wider range of people.
Today, there are over 1.4 billion automobiles in operation worldwide. The car remains a major mode of passenger transportation and is considered the most popular of all consumer vehicles. In the United States, over 73 million cars are sold each year. The number of new automobiles produced worldwide is growing at a fast pace, and manufacturers have designed a wide variety of models to meet different needs and preferences. Some of these include sport-utility vehicles, station wagons, minivans, luxury vehicles and pickup trucks. Some manufacturers have even developed cars that can run on water or electricity, in addition to gasoline. These alternative fuel cars are still in development, and they may eventually replace the conventional gas-powered automobile. As a result of increasing concern about climate change, some individuals are now choosing to avoid driving or purchasing a car altogether. Others are taking public transit when available or carpooling with other drivers.