Automobiles are motor vehicles that carry passengers and luggage. The branches of engineering that deal with automobiles are called automobile engineering and automobile technology. There are about 1.4 billion passenger cars on the world’s roads, most of them in North America and Europe. Manufacturers are constantly improving safety features such as seat belts, airbags and blind-spot monitoring systems. Automakers are also developing new engines, chassis and control systems. The automotive industry provides a significant percentage of jobs in many countries, including the United States. It is one of the biggest consumers of petroleum and steel, and is a major source of air pollution.
Automobiles have transformed the way that people live, work and play. They allow people to move around their country and the world with greater ease and speed than ever before. They make it possible for individuals to travel longer distances to visit friends and relatives, or to find new jobs in different locations. They also open up opportunities for businesses and organizations to expand their markets.
The modern automobile was first perfected in Germany and France in the late 1800s by such men as Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz and Emile Levassor. Yet it was Henry Ford who revolutionized the industry in the 1920s by using mass production techniques at his Highland Park, Michigan, plant. His Model T runabout cost less than half the average annual wage and brought mass personal automotive mobility to the masses.
The automobile has opened up a vast world of opportunity and leisure for millions of Americans. Traveling long distances no longer takes days, and the hours spent traveling are now free to be spent on other activities such as working at a job or spending time with family and friends.