Automobiles are modern vehicles used for passenger transportation on land. They use an internal combustion engine fueled most commonly by gasoline, or fuel oil. There are about 1.4 billion cars on the world’s roads, and they travel more than three trillion miles each year. Cars are one of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century, and they play a major role in our daily lives.
Invented in the late 19th century, automobiles have changed our view of day-to-day transportation, opened up new opportunities for people to move around, and created new industries. In the United States, for example, automobiles are a major source of income for the automotive industry and for many ancillary industries that supply parts to automakers. The automobile has also brought women more personal freedom, as they can drive themselves anywhere without having to rely on male family members or public buses for transport.
Karl Benz invented the first automobile in 1885, and others followed with their own designs. However, it was American engineer and businessman Henry Ford who revolutionized the production of automobiles by using an assembly line. This allowed him to make enough cars each day to meet demand. This reduced the cost of the cars to a level that middle-class Americans could afford them.
Although automobiles are extremely useful, they also have several disadvantages. When they are driven too fast, they can cause accidents that kill or injure people. Their emissions of air pollution contribute to global warming, and traffic congestion makes it difficult for people to get where they want to go quickly. They are also a big consumer of raw materials.