The automobile —or car, for short—is a wheeled vehicle designed primarily to carry passengers and used for transportation. It has traditionally been propelled by an internal combustion engine using a volatile fuel. Today, there are over 590 million automobiles in the world, and most of them run on gasoline or diesel fuel. There are also many hybrid vehicles that use a combination of gas and electric power to propel the car. The automobile has become a vital part of the economy and is one of the most significant inventions in history.
A strong auto industry supports 9.6 million American jobs, and provides economic stability in every state. Its cutting-edge facilities create state-of-the-art cars and trucks. Its advanced logistics networks deliver finished products across America and around the globe. And its workers are making the cleanest, safest, smartest vehicles ever – redefining personal mobility for generations to come.
A well-equipped car gives you the freedom to travel long distances for work, school, shopping, and to visit friends and family. This makes life easier, and allows you to do things on your own terms instead of having to follow strict timetables for buses or trains.
The emergence of the automobile changed everyday life in the United States, giving people access to jobs and services they previously could not reach. It prompted the development of industries that supplied raw materials for car production such as petroleum and gasoline, rubber and plastics, and service providers like gas stations and convenience stores. It also fueled the growth of leisure activities like road trips, recreational travel, and fast food restaurants. It also led to a wide range of new laws and government requirements, including those concerning safety features and highway rules.
It has also allowed people to move to areas that have more opportunities for employment, housing, and education. However, the car also brought changes such as air pollution, traffic congestion, and a strain on dwindling world oil supplies. It also caused social problems such as alienation from society, drug abuse, and petty crime.
The automobile has been subject to many technological changes, but the era of revolutionary innovations was over by the late 1920s. By that time, most manufacturers were producing cars much like the Model T. Most of the important advancements had occurred during the previous decade, such as the self-starter, the closed all-steel body, hydraulic brakes, and syncromesh transmissions.
But there was still plenty of room for improvement. Engineering in the postwar era was subordinated to questionable aesthetics of nonfunctional styling, and quality deteriorated to the point where American-made cars were being delivered with twenty-four defects per unit. Moreover, the higher unit profits that automobile companies earned on gas-guzzling “road cruisers” came at a cost to the environment, public health, and national security. These factors contributed to the rise of consumer and environmental activism, which resulted in more stringent automobile regulations. They helped spur on developments such as the catalytic converter, antilock brakes, and electronic ignition control systems.