Automobiles are a vital part of the modern world, and without them we cannot imagine our lives today. They enable us to move about and commute to work, school, shopping or family trips. They are the basis for the development of new businesses, such as gas stations and hotels. They shape urban design and government services such as police, ambulance and fire departments. In the United States alone, over three trillion miles (five billion kilometres) are driven each year by automobiles. The branch of Engineering that deals with the manufacturing and technology of these vehicles is called Automobile engineering.
The invention of the automobile was a momentous event that changed the course of human history. The automobile revolutionized the way we live, work and play, and it transformed cities and towns around the globe. It made possible new social and recreational activities, such as going to the beach and shopping. It allowed people to travel great distances quickly and conveniently, connecting cities, towns and rural areas in a manner never before possible. It has changed the face of our societies and created new business opportunities. It has also shaped our laws, which now provide for a network of highways that connect cities and regions around the world.
There are many different types of cars, and they can be powered by electricity, gasoline or other fuels. Automobiles are usually designed to transport passengers, although some are built for the transportation of goods. Most of these cars are driven by an internal combustion engine, which converts the energy from gasoline into mechanical energy that can be used to propel the car. Some of these engines are electric, and some are hydrogen-powered.
Regardless of the power source, all automobiles have similar components. The chassis is the skeleton on which the various systems of the automobile are mounted. It is similar to the skeletal structure in the human body. It must be strong enough to support the weight of the vehicle, but flexible to absorb shocks and tension from the road. The suspension, steering and braking systems are attached to the chassis. The body of the car is an important safety feature, as it protects passengers from the elements and provides comfort and convenience.
The early automobiles were expensive and dangerous, and accidents were common. Many die-hard horse lovers dismissed these new machines as a scourge of humanity and predicted catastrophe for the future. Others argued that the automobile was the answer to the country’s growing need for transportation.
By the turn of the century, however, automobiles had taken hold in America. The nation’s vast land area, its need for transportation and lower wages provided a powerful incentive for auto ownership. Henry Ford innovated mass production techniques, and Ford, General Motors and Chrysler soon became the world’s leading automotive manufacturers. The cars became increasingly reliable, and their owners began to treat them as a permanent fixture in the landscape of daily life. In addition, new technologies were being introduced to make automobiles safer and more comfortable.