Automobiles are vehicles that are powered by engines, and use gasoline (or another fuel) for propulsion. These engines can be powered by anything from a simple internal combustion to a steam engine, or even an electric battery. Automobiles can be used for transporting people or cargo, and many people own more than one car. In addition, automobiles are very useful in the construction industry. Many different special-purpose cars are made for various jobs, such as crane vehicle at the construction site of a building or a road roller in road construction and a fork-lift in warehouse.
The first automobiles were invented in the late 1800s and were perfected in Germany and France by engineers such as Karl Benz. By 1920, the American businessman Henry Ford had improved the manufacturing process, allowing his company to mass-produce Model T cars and make them affordable for middle class families.
As the automobile became more affordable, it transformed American society. People could move more easily from urban to rural areas, increasing opportunities for work and leisure activities. They could travel across the country and even around the world. In fact, it has been said that modern life seems inconceivable without access to an automobile.
Despite its tremendous benefits, the automobile has also brought some problems. Its widespread use contributes to air pollution, which is linked to climate change. It is difficult to control the number of automobiles on a roadway, and congestion from traffic jams can make driving slow or dangerous. Some cities have created public transportation systems to help reduce the amount of time and money spent by citizens traveling by automobile.
While the automobile is a vital part of American life, it is beginning to meld into new forces that will shape the future. The computer, the laser and the robotics may be replacing the automobile as the dominant means of transportation in the 21st century.
Research and development are an important part of the automotive industry, and engineers work to improve the body, chassis, engine, drivetrain, electrical systems, safety and emissions-control systems. New materials such as high-strength plastics and advanced alloys of steel and nonferrous metals have also contributed to the advancement of the automobile.
Today’s consumers can choose from a wide variety of automobiles, from sport utility vehicles with four-wheel drive to sleek sedans that are easy on the wallet. But most of these vehicles still have a few things in common: they are all built on car platforms, and most offer a blend of car-like handling with SUV-like capability and practicality. The best example of this is the Subaru Outback, which offers a good mix of features at a price point that many ordinary people can afford. The other popular options include the Toyota RAV4, Nissan Xterra and Ford Escape. All of these vehicles can carry passengers and cargo, and some have off-road capabilities. But only the Subaru can do so at a reasonable price and with a fun-to-drive experience.