Automobiles (automobile) are a major means of transportation used by many people. They have become a vital part of modern society. They allow us to travel quickly and easily from one place to another. They are a convenient way to get to work, school, and social events. There are a number of different types of automobiles in use today, but most have similar features. They are powered by an engine that burns gasoline to create mechanical energy that turns the wheels of the vehicle. The wheels are connected to a transmission, which controls the speed of the vehicle. There are also several other systems in a car that control its operation, including the brakes, air conditioning, and safety equipment. The automotive industry is a large part of the economy and it employs thousands of workers.
In the late 1800s, inventors worked to bring automobile technology within reach of middle-class Americans. Henry Ford’s Model T runabout sold for less than the average annual wage of a factory worker in 1912. This low cost made automobile ownership possible for millions of people. The new mobility provided by the automobile brought about many changes in American life. It allowed families to spend more time together. Cities could grow much faster than before. Rural dwellers were able to shop in towns. Teenagers gained independence with driving freedom, and couples could explore their romantic possibilities on longer drives.
While automobiles have improved over the years, they are still a source of great personal pride and pleasure. Almost 90 percent of American households own at least one car. Many of them are new or nearly new, and the cars in use now are the result of years of technological developments. These include advances in materials, such as high-strength plastics and alloys of steel and nonferrous metals. New technical systems are also employed, such as electronic controls and advanced control units. These advances have enabled manufacturers to produce vehicles that are more functional and comfortable, as well as safer.
The automotive industry has contributed to the development of a number of other industries and technologies. For example, machine tools and steel mills became more profitable because they supplied parts to the automobile industry. Moreover, many smaller businesses developed as a consequence of the growth of the automobile industry. These included companies that made such products as batteries, headlights, and upholstery.
The automotive industry has also spawned new fields of study. For example, the field of automotive engineering focuses on the design and construction of automobiles. This discipline includes studies in physics, mathematics, and engineering, and it has helped to develop the new technologies that are now being used in modern cars. These technologies include the computer, lasers, and other devices that have enabled the automobile to meld into a new Age of Electronics.