The automobile, first developed in the late 1800s, is one of the most significant innovations in modern history. It symbolizes the promise and the pitfalls of the modern world. It is a convenient means of transportation for individuals and families, but it is expensive and polluting. The branch of engineering that deals with the design, manufacture and technology of automobiles is known as automotive engineering.
The scientific and technological building blocks of the automobile go back several hundred years. In the late 1600s Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens invented a type of internal combustion engine sparked by gunpowder, but it did not become commercially viable until the early 1900s. Steam, electric, and gasoline powered cars competed for decades, with the internal combustion gasoline car finally dominating in the 1910s.
Automobiles have revolutionized America, both as a source of industry and as a means of personal transport. The car was one of the first industries to adopt the assembly line, which streamlined production and made it possible for more people to afford to own a vehicle. It also stimulated the development of new industries to supply parts and fuel for automobiles, including petroleum and gasoline and rubber and plastics. It also created jobs in the service sector, such as gas stations and convenience stores.
Besides giving you freedom to travel where and when you want, having your own automobile gives you the convenience of avoiding traffic jams and getting around without having to wait for buses or trains. It can save you a lot of time on shopping trips, visits to friends and family, or running errands. It will also enable you to get to work on time, if you are a commuter.
Automobiles can be used for recreational purposes as well, such as driving to a beach or going on a camping trip. They are also used for hauling large loads, such as equipment and supplies for a construction site or moving household goods. Some of these vehicles are designed for off-road use, which requires durable, simple systems that can withstand heavy overloads and extreme conditions. Others are intended for highway speeds, which require passenger comfort options, optimized high-speed handling and stability, and efficient engine performance.
The era of annually restyled road cruisers came to an end as engineers and designers began to focus on function and economy. The quest for greater fuel efficiency and emissions control was rewarded in the 1970s and 1980s with the penetration of both the U.S. and world markets by Japanese manufacturers of small, functionally designed, economical and fuel-efficient cars. Today, automobiles are the primary form of transportation for millions of people worldwide. The vast majority are passenger cars, but cargo vehicles also exist, such as minivans and vans. Other types of vehicles are limousines and sport utility vehicles (SUVs). All these automobiles are designed to be driven on roads by a driver and carry passengers or cargo. Some of them are equipped with air conditioning and may have audio systems.