Automobiles play a vital role in modern life, providing both people and products with the ability to move over long distances. They are a large consumer of industrial resources, and their demands have helped create new industries such as steel and petroleum. The automobile has also changed the world’s culture, creating leisure activities such as amusement parks and fast-food chains. The field of engineering that studies the manufacture and technology of automobiles is known as automotive engineering.
The scientific and technical building blocks of the modern automobile go back several hundred years, with Leonardo da Vinci making designs for transport vehicles in the late 1600s. The automobile as we know it, however, did not take shape until the late 1800s, when engineers such as Karl Benz invented the first self-propelled, gasoline internal combustion engines. Daimler later added a four-stroke engine to a horse carriage, which became the first motor car, and Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler innovated mass production techniques that put cars within reach of middle class families.
POWERFUL, SPEEDY AND RELIABLE
Most of today’s automobiles run on a liquid fuel called gasoline, which is burned inside the engine to produce mechanical energy that turns the wheels of the vehicle. This energy is then used to propel the vehicle forward or in reverse, and the vehicle can be controlled to change direction and to accelerate up or down hills. Most automobiles also have electrical systems that control lights, air conditioning and other features.
Automobiles allow people to travel great distances in a relatively short time, opening up many possibilities for work and recreation. They have spawned a wide variety of new jobs, from designing and building roads to police, ambulance, fire, and utility services and such personal uses as vacation travel, shopping, and dining out. They have transformed society, creating a culture of consumer goods and reshaping work patterns to make them more flexible and less dependent on traditional geographic locations.
AUTOMOBILES CAN HAVE A BAD IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT: Automobiles increase urban sprawl, which is characterized by low-density development that degrades landscapes and wastes the limited natural resources of cities. The influx of cars into cities can also lead to traffic congestion and pollution, which affect people’s health and quality of life.
The automobile also encourages individual freedom of movement and action, which can have harmful social consequences. For example, it can promote suburbanization, in which people leave the city for the safety and comfort of a home surrounded by green grass and an abundance of trees. This can stifle community spirit, because the people in suburbs do not share the same interests and have few opportunities to meet with their neighbors face to face.
Despite these challenges, automobiles continue to dominate the transportation industry. They are more powerful, lighter and quieter than ever before, while offering more advanced safety and comfort features. Most consumers agree that the best way to buy a new automobile is to research and compare models, which are available in a range of prices from budget-friendly to luxury.