Automobiles are a major part of modern life. Without them, many of the luxuries of the modern world would be impossible to enjoy. They are used for passenger transportation, and also to transport goods. There are a variety of types of automobiles, but all of them have four wheels and an engine. The branches of engineering which deal with the manufacture and technology of these vehicles are known as Automobile Engineering.
The first true automobile was built in Germany and France in the late 1800s, but it was the American inventor and industrialist Henry Ford who brought the car to wide popularity by using assembly line techniques in his factory to produce inexpensive cars at scale. The development of such mass-production methods lowered the cost of automobiles, making them affordable for middle-class families to own and operate.
Unlike the horse-drawn carriages of Europe, the American automobile was designed to carry multiple passengers at high speeds on open roads. To accommodate this requirement, the design of a vehicle requires a more complex and rugged chassis. The design of an engine, meanwhile, must be optimized for high-speed operation and to handle large loads.
Because of the greater distances traveled in the United States, a great demand for automotive transportation was anticipated. By the late 1920s, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler had emerged as dominant manufacturers in the automobile industry.
As the automobile took hold in America, it transformed the economy and society in profound ways. It facilitated the growth of suburbia, enabling people to live further from their jobs and to take on more leisure activities. This was accompanied by a rise in services such as hotels, motels, restaurants, amusement parks and other recreational facilities.
On the downside, the automobile also brought harm to the environment. It created air pollution from the exhaust of gas-burning engines, and it led to the destruction of formerly undeveloped land for highways and related industries. In addition, it contributed to the spread of infectious diseases through the transmission of germs by passengers and drivers.
The automobile’s future is now uncertain, as new forces chart a path for the future of modern society. The Age of the Automobile is fading into an Age of Electronics.
A person who owns a car can travel much faster than those who must rely on public transportation, which often means being late for appointments. This can be stressful. Having your own automobile allows you to spend more time with family.
The word automobile comes from the French words auto- + mot- (meaning “self-propelled”) and was coined by Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler in 1885/1886, although the exact origin is disputed. Daimler earned a mechanical engineering degree at Stuttgart Polytechnic and pursued an interest in making a practical internal combustion engine. Etienne Lenoir had already created a crude engine, but it was not practical. Eventually, Daimler and Karl Maybach developed a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine for use in vehicles. This engine was the basis for the automobile.