Automobiles are motor vehicles that use an internal combustion engine to drive the wheels. Powered by gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, or other types of petroleum-based liquids, they are designed to carry passengers over long distances at high speeds. The automobile is the most common means of personal transportation in the world. It is used for driving on roads, highways and country lanes, as well as for traveling to work, school, shopping, or visiting friends and relatives. An estimated 1.4 billion cars are currently in operation worldwide. Most of the cars are passenger models. A few are designed for transporting goods or pulling trailers. Most modern automobiles have four-wheel drive and a transmission system that transfers the power generated by the engine to the driving wheels. The engine can be water-cooled or air-cooled. In the United States, most cars are gasoline fueled.
The automobile has changed the world in many ways. It has enabled people to travel great distances more quickly than ever before, opening up new work and social opportunities. It has created many industries that supply parts and services for automobiles. It has also given people more freedom to live where they want and to choose where to go in relation to their work. In addition, the automobile has stimulated new communities, bringing people together who would not have met otherwise.
In the beginning, automobiles were expensive and only available to wealthy people. But after the invention of the automobile assembly line, Henry Ford made it possible to produce a basic model car that could be bought by most Americans at a reasonable price. The Model T became the most popular vehicle in history, and by 1920, it had replaced carriages and other forms of road transportation.
Although the automobile has contributed to environmental problems, it has brought many other benefits as well. In recent years, most American families have owned one or more motor vehicles. They have been a source of pride and status among middle-class and upper-middle class citizens, and the industry has been a major source of employment in the country.
While the automobile may seem like an old, familiar concept, its future is constantly changing. New forces, such as the electronic media and laser technology, are charting a different course for the future of automobiles and other forms of transportation. In the near future, many experts expect that the automobile will become obsolete as it is replaced by more efficient means of personal transportation. In addition, the automobile is being challenged by a growing concern about climate change. It may be the first major form of transportation to be affected by changes in the environment. In the near future, many experts predict that the cars of today will be relegated to the museum. In the meantime, many manufacturers are offering new, stylish designs for the automobile that they believe will appeal to the public. Those changes will be the beginning of a new era in which the Age of the Automobile will merge into the age of the electronic media.