The automobile is a type of vehicle that is designed to transport passengers. They usually have four wheels and can seat one to eight people. They are a common mode of transportation around the world, and are a popular alternative to public transportation. An automobile can be used to commute to work, go shopping, or visit friends and family. They are a very important part of our daily lives, and they allow us to spend time doing things we enjoy.
The modern automobile is powered by a water-cooled, piston-type internal combustion engine that drives either the front or rear wheels or both. Most passenger cars are gasoline fueled, though some use diesel engines which burn heavier petroleum fuels. Modern cars can also be driven by electric motors, but these are primarily used for specialty vehicles such as taxicabs or mopeds.
Automobiles have revolutionized life in the developed world. The car enabled urban dwellers to rediscover pristine nature, and rural dwellers to shop in towns. It has brought families together as they drive to vacation spots, and allowed teenaged couples to have dates on the road. Today, it is almost impossible to imagine living without an automobile.
Although the automobile was first invented in Germany and France in the late 1700s, Henry Ford’s innovative production methods allowed it to become affordable for middle-class Americans. In postwar America, the industry became dominated by large corporations such as Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler which produced millions of units each year. But quality deteriorated, and engineering was subordinated to questionable aesthetics and nonfunctional styling at the expense of economy and safety. Questions arose about the environmental costs of automobile pollution and of their drain on dwindling world oil reserves. This slowed production, and the market was soon penetrated by European and Japanese manufacturers of functionally designed and well-built small cars.