The Automobile Industry

An automobile (also known as a motor car or auto) is a four-wheeled, self-propelled motor vehicle that is used for passenger transportation on land. It is fueled most commonly by gasoline, a liquid petroleum product. The automotive industry produces over 73 million cars each year worldwide, making it one of the world’s largest industries.

The automobile has revolutionized modern life, changing the way people travel and shop. It provides jobs for millions around the world, including those who work in factories that produce cars, and at gas stations and restaurants that serve travellers. It also creates demands on ancillary industries that provide steel, oil and other products.

Cars are complicated machines that require many systems to run correctly. The heart of every automobile is the internal combustion engine. It uses fuel to produce power that turns the wheels and electricity for lights. The fuel is usually petrol, or gasoline in the United States. The first engines were steam or electricity powered, but the internal combustion engine quickly became dominant. The first modern automobile was the 1901 Mercedes designed by Wilhelm Maybach for the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft. It was a beautiful, luxurious car, but the price tag of over five thousand dollars made it out of reach for most Americans.

By the 1920s the automobile was a major force in American society, providing one out of six industrial jobs and changing lifestyles. Families could now travel for pleasure, shopping in towns and cities that previously were out of reach. Young teenagers gained independence by driving, and couples could date while on the road. However, car accidents and congestion caused by too many drivers led to calls for licensing and safety rules.

As technology improved, cars became easier to operate and more comfortable to ride in. New features included air conditioning, heaters and automatic windows. Automobile production reached a new high in the 1920s, thanks to Henry Ford’s introduction of the assembly line. Workers stayed in place, doing only one task, while the car parts passed by on a conveyor belt. This allowed the production of large numbers of automobiles at low prices. Ford’s Model T was an early success.

Today, automobiles are available in many different shapes and sizes to suit different needs. There are small, economical cars for city driving; station wagons and pickup trucks, which can hold tools or equipment, and family-size SUVs for off-road or cross-country travel. Almost all cars are driven by men and women, although in some countries children must be placed in special seats if they are not seated in the front seat with a parent or guardian.

The automobile is an integral part of most societies, but it is not without its problems. Its use of fossil fuels contributes to global climate change, and it pollutes the environment when it is disposed of at the end of its life. It can also be dangerous if it is driven recklessly or by untrained drivers.