What Are Automobiles?

Automobiles are self-propelled vehicles used for passenger transportation on land. Automobiles have four to eight wheels, an internal combustion engine fueled mostly by gasoline (or other liquid petroleum products) and gears that turn the wheels. They are one of the most universal of modern technologies, and they play a crucial role in our daily lives. The branches of engineering that deal with the manufacture and technology of automobiles are known as automotive engineering.

Throughout the 1920s, American life came to seem almost inconceivable without access to an automobile. Having one meant the ability to shop for goods in town, to rediscover pristine countryside in family vacations, and to enjoy more freedom of personal expression. On the other hand, automobile ownership brought new challenges such as traffic congestion and increased safety concerns that prompted demands for licensing and safety regulation.

The automobile sparked a revolution in manufacturing as well, with Henry Ford introducing mass production techniques at his factory to reduce the price of his Model T runabout so that it could be affordable for middle-class families. Demand for vulcanized rubber and steel also boomed. And roads were built at an incredible pace, creating thousands of jobs.

However, owning a vehicle comes with financial responsibilities, including car payments, insurance premiums, fuel expenses and possible repairs. It also has environmental costs, as automobiles emit greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. If public transit is readily available in your area, it may make more sense for you to rely on it rather than owning a vehicle.

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