Automobiles are vehicles used for transporting people and things. They usually have four wheels and a motor to make them move. They are much larger than a bicycle and smaller than a truck/lorry and bus. The word comes from the Latin “auto-” (self) and “mobilis” (moving). The first automobiles were steam and electrically powered, but later came gasoline engines. The development of the automobile revolutionized transportation and created new industries. It gave people more freedom and access to jobs, places to live, services, and leisure activities. However it also caused pollution and drained the world’s oil supplies.
The early automobiles had a very slow pace of progress. Then around 1905, American car maker Henry Ford introduced the assembly line. This made it easy to make many cars quickly. Workers could stay in one place and do a single task while the parts passed by on a conveyor belt. This reduced the cost of the automobiles to a point where middle-class families could afford them. The automobile became the dominant mode of transportation in most countries. Today the average automobile travels more than three trillion miles (five trillion kilometres) each year.
Automobiles were designed and built in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some were designed to be sporty and fast, others practical and comfortable. Some were even designed to be stylish and attractive. However, in the late 20th century automobile production slowed to a crawl as technological advancements stalled. It was also difficult to compete with low-priced imports from Japan and Germany.
In addition, questions began to surface about the safety and environmental aspects of automobiles. There were concerns about the lack of seat belts and other safety features, the amount of pollution and draining of the world’s oil reserves, and even the ‘gas guzzling’ aspect of American made automobiles. This opened the market to a number of foreign manufacturers that produced small, fuel efficient cars with functional designs.
As a result of these changes, the automobile has become the most important means of transportation in the world. It is used by people all over the world for a multitude of reasons, including getting from one place to another, and taking people to leisure activities or work. Without the automobile, modern life would be inconceivable or at least highly inconvenient.
In most countries, the automobile has a large influence on industry and everyday life. For example, it contributed to the development of highways and other road networks that were previously unavailable. It prompted the growth of a wide range of related businesses such as gas stations and convenience stores. It helped create industries that produce tires, engines, and other automotive components. It helped bring about laws that require safety features, like seatbelts and driving licenses. It also helped to change lifestyles, providing more leisure activities and creating new ways of spending time with friends and family. However, it has also brought about problems, such as pollution and a need for roads that take up valuable wilderness areas.