Automobiles are vehicles designed for personal transportation that are typically powered by internal combustion engines using a volatile fuel. The modern automobile contains thousands of complex parts arranged into several semi-independent systems, each with a specific design function. These include the engine, chassis, electrical system, cooling and lubrication system, wheels and tires, and body. The modern automotive industry is driven by competition, consumer expectations, government regulations, and environmental concerns. The modern automobile is a highly complex technical system that embodies a multitude of compromises that are the result of these competing forces.
One of the most important benefits of having your own vehicle is that it allows you to work independently and not have to depend on others for rides to work or meetings. You can save a lot of money by not having to pay for taxi or bus rides. Moreover, you can save time by not having to wait for the next available ride or being stuck in traffic jams. In the hectic and fast-paced lifestyle of today, owning a car gives you the freedom to go where and when you want without having to adjust your schedule to other people’s.
The development of the modern automobile was facilitated by the invention of the internal combustion engine and the production line. In the early 1900s, Ransom Eli Olds patented his steam, electric and gasoline powered autos, and Henry Ford began mass production in 1902. In the 1910s, the automotive industry exploded due to the many innovations that came about as a result of competition between manufacturers. These included electric starter motors and independent suspension. Other significant advancements were the four-wheel brakes and the carburetor, which used air pressure to control the flow of fuel.
Although there are a wide variety of automobiles available on the market, most are similar in design and structure. The main differences are the size and type of engine, the number of gears (standard cars usually have three forward and one reverse), and safety features. Various designs and technologies are continuously being introduced to the market in order to satisfy consumer demand, including the use of advanced electronic computers, high-strength materials, and new alloys of steel and nonferrous metals.
In addition to the many mechanical improvements, the development of sophisticated safety and control systems have also contributed greatly to the success of the modern automobile. In the United States, there are more than 3 trillion miles (five trillion kilometers) traveled in automobiles each year. The automobile has transformed the social and economic life of the country and many other nations. Entire societies have been restructured around the power of rapid long-distance movement conferred by automobiles, but this mobility has brought with it a host of new problems. The problems are related to sprawl (low-density urban development), pollution, traffic congestion, and the immobilization of automobiles in the case of accidents. Automobiles have become the major form of transportation in most industrialized countries, with more than 1.4 billion vehicles operating worldwide.