Automobiles have become the most common form of personal transportation in the United States and many other countries. They are usually four-wheeled vehicles designed for passenger transport and propelled by an internal combustion engine fueled by a volatile fuel. The modern automobile is a complex technical system with thousands of subsystems that have evolved over time from breakthroughs in technology like electronic computers and high-strength plastics and alloys of steel and nonferrous metals. The development of automobiles has resulted in many changes for industry and technology, as well as daily life.
The scientific and technological building blocks for the automobile date back several hundred years. The first self-propelled vehicles, resembling horseless carriages, were powered by steam, electric power or gasoline. Steam-powered cars could travel at relatively high speeds, but they were difficult to start and required frequent refueling. Electric cars were convenient but had a limited range and were often impractical because of the difficulty of finding recharging stations. The gasoline-powered automobile, introduced in the late 1800s, proved to be a highly efficient and reliable mode of transportation. By 1920, it had overtaken the streets and byways of Europe and the United States. Its success was facilitated by industrial manufacturing techniques such as those employed by U.S. carmaker Henry Ford, which allowed for mass production and made the automobile affordable for middle class families. It also prompted the growth of new industries and services to support automobiles, such as gas stations, convenience stores, automotive repair shops and fast food restaurants.
Having a car means you can save time traveling, especially when going to work or shopping for groceries. Getting to your destination quickly can give you the flexibility to spend more time doing the things that matter most to you, whether it’s spending quality time with family or taking a much-needed vacation. It can even make it possible to work from home or run errands around town at a time that’s convenient for you.
An automobile has become a symbol of status, and it’s a major purchase that can make you feel proud of yourself. It can boost your confidence and help you stand out in a crowd. A car can also help you connect with your community and make a positive impact on your neighbors and fellow citizens.
When shopping for a car, you’ll find that there are more choices than ever before. There are new vehicle categories, and a growing number of models in existing formats like minivans and big sedans. The hottest segment is sport-utility vehicles, with more shapes and sizes than ever before. You’ll also find that you have more options than ever when it comes to electric vehicles, with more models and configurations of hybrids and battery-powered electric cars on the market. These new models are responding to the need for environmentally friendly, cost-efficient cars. They are also being driven by government regulations on safety, fuel efficiency and emissions and rising energy prices.