Automobiles are one of the most universal and common of modern technologies, yet they can also be dangerous. Every day, millions of people around the world get into cars and drive to work or school, or to go shopping or visit friends and family. Millions more work in the factories that make cars or at the gas stations, restaurants or motels that travelers stop at. The cars themselves are complex machines, and their many parts work together to power them, control and steer them, and make them comfortable for passengers.
The first automobiles were designed in the late 1800s, but they didn’t become popular until the 1920s. By then, gasoline-powered vehicles had replaced horses on the streets and byways of Europe and the United States. Henry Ford revolutionized the automotive industry with mass production techniques, making his Model T runabout affordable to middle-class families. His innovations, combined with lower tariff barriers that encouraged sales over a large geographic area, ensured great demand for automobiles in the United States.
Cars have become essential to modern life, and the number of automobiles in operation worldwide is estimated at about 1.4 billion. Most are passenger cars, which carry one to six people. About three trillion miles (five trillion kilometers) are driven by cars each year, with more than half of those miles being driven in the United States.
A big advantage of having your own vehicle is that you can travel freely. You can go wherever you want, when you want, without having to worry about your schedule or a bus that might be running behind. If you have kids, having your own automobile also gives you the freedom to transport them safely to school, to sports activities or to their friends’ homes.
Another advantage of having your own vehicle is that it saves you a lot of time, as you don’t have to wait for buses or taxis. You can cross town in a matter of minutes, which is very helpful for those who have a busy lifestyle and who don’t have much free time.
Having your own car allows you to reach faraway places with ease, which can open up new work possibilities and broaden your social circle. Moreover, it allows you to spend more time with your family because you can go on vacations and take road trips without having to rely on others to take care of the transportation.
Today, almost all automobiles have safety features that protect the driver and passengers in case of an accident. In addition to seat belts, most have airbags and bumpers that help prevent injuries. In addition, most have systems that keep the car from drifting in the lane or crossing the center line. The car’s engine is also important, as it needs to have high power and acceleration for driving on fast roads. The engine can be powered by either gasoline or diesel fuel, but engineers are working on alternative energy sources such as biodiesel, hydrogen fuel cells and electric cars.