Automobiles are self-propelled vehicles, typically powered by a gasoline engine or diesel (which uses a heavier oil). Modern automobiles usually use a four-wheel drive system and can be driven on both roads and off-road. An automobile’s power is transmitted through a transaxle (a pair of gear-driven wheels that transmits the engine’s power to either the front or rear wheels). The automobile industry, which comprises automotive manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, employs many scientists and engineers to improve the design, chassis, engines, drivetrain, control systems, safety features, and emissions-control systems. The automotive industry is a major source of employment in the United States and is a key component of America’s economic health.
Perhaps no invention affected everyday life in the twentieth century more than the automobile, which revolutionized transportation and industry. The automobile brought the convenience of modern living to rural areas, ended urban isolation, and changed the layout of the city by opening up new neighborhoods for housing. It also enabled people to move more quickly and easily to jobs and services and from job to job. Its demand created many new industries and created jobs, including those to manufacture the cars themselves. The automobile gave Americans more freedom of movement and made it possible for many women to work outside the home. It also paved the way for suburban development, changing the shape of American cities and suburbs.
The automobile was first produced in Europe in the late nineteenth century, but the American manufacturers Ford and GM came to dominate by the 1920s. Their success was helped by the revolutionary production methods invented by Henry Ford, which allowed them to produce more cars at a lower price than European manufacturers.
As the demand for automobiles grew, so did the need for fuel, rubber, plastic, steel and other products. The automobile also caused air pollution and drained the world’s oil reserves, leading to climate change. These problems could be solved by reducing the number of automobiles on the road or by switching to alternative fuel sources.
Today, automobiles account for a large proportion of traffic on the world’s roads and highways. When there are too many of them on the road, they can create traffic congestion and slow down everyone. Moreover, they are polluting the environment when they are fueled with gasoline and producing toxic wastes when they are disposed of. This is why public transportation such as buses, trains and trams are often a better option than using an automobile to get around. They can help you save money and time, and they are much safer than driving your own vehicle.