Automobiles are vehicles that use an engine to drive the wheels on a road. They have a seat for the driver and passenger, and are designed primarily to transport people rather than cargo. There are many different types of automobiles, from the small sedan to the massive truck. Some have been designed to reach places that are inaccessible by other means of transportation, such as mountainous areas or deserts.
Invented in the late 1800s, the automobile transformed modern life. It has made it possible to travel long distances quickly and affordably, connecting cities, towns, and rural areas in ways never before seen. It has also created new social and leisure activities, such as shopping and vacation trips. In the United States alone, people drive over three trillion miles (five trillion kilometres) each year.
There are a number of problems associated with automobiles, however. They can cause damage to buildings or other structures if they crash, they create air pollution when driving in large numbers, and their exhaust can contribute to global warming. People can try to reduce the harm caused by automobiles by using them less and by driving them more efficiently.
Automobiles have changed the economy by bringing in new industries and creating jobs. Currently, over 4.25 million people work in the automotive industry around the world. The automobile has also reduced the need for other forms of transportation, such as trains, airplanes, and boats. It has also taken a toll on the animal industry, as it has forced horse breeders and buggy makers out of business.
In the early 20th century, American businessmen like Henry Ford and William Durant developed manufacturing techniques that enabled them to produce cars at much lower prices than European manufacturers could. This allowed middle class families to afford them. As the demand for automobiles grew, companies such as Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors became the dominant automakers.
While there are a few different definitions for what an automobile is, most agree that the term refers to a four-wheeled motor vehicle that has seating for one to eight passengers and is used mainly for transportation. It must have a steering system and be able to turn corners. It must also be able to travel over roads and have a brake system.
The automobile has had a profound effect on society, changing lifestyles, creating new leisure activities, and providing transportation to remote areas. It has made it easier to live in cities, as well as for people to visit family and friends in the countryside. For many, it would be impossible to imagine modern life without the automobile.