Automobiles play a major role in our lives. Without automobiles we cannot even think of the luxuries that we enjoy today. Automobiles are used for passenger transport as well as goods transport. The Automobile industry is one of the largest industries in the world and is constantly growing.
The Modern automobile is a complex system of subsystems with specific design functions. Its construction is dependent on new materials and techniques, including high-strength plastics, alloys of steel and nonferrous metals, and electronic computers. The use of these new materials and techniques allows for a wide variety of vehicle configurations and sizes to meet the needs of consumers, from minivans to sports cars. Mass production methods, first developed for the automobile industry in the early twentieth century, allow the manufacture of vehicles at low cost. The automobile has revolutionized the way we live, restructuring societies around the power of rapid long-distance movement conferred on individuals and around the flexible distribution of goods made possible by trucks.
The ability to move rapidly from place to place has both positive and negative consequences for society, with significant increases in freedom of movement tending to encourage sprawl (i.e., sprinkling of low-density development that degrades landscapes and increases traffic congestion) while also increasing the vulnerability of people to accidents. These accidents are almost always due to human error and can be prevented by installing safety systems such as seatbelts and airbags, and by enforcing laws to require vehicle occupants to wear their seat belts or wear child restraints.