Automobiles are four-wheeled vehicles that transport people and sometimes small amounts of cargo. They are driven by an internal combustion engine that uses fuel to run, usually gasoline. There are different types of automobiles, including sedans, hatchbacks, SUVs, and vans.
The automobile became a powerful force for change in twentieth-century America. It sparked suburbanization, increased urban shopping and merchandising, and brought improved medical care and schooling to rural areas. It also spawned a host of service and highway-related industries such as motels, gas stations, and restaurants. The automobile revolutionized the economy by attracting consumers and stimulating production of ancillary goods and services, such as steel and petroleum. It ended rural isolation and brought urban amenities to rural areas and helped establish a new class of urban residents. It stimulated participation in outdoor recreational activities and encouraged family vacations to pristine areas that had not previously been accessible. It also gave teenagers freedom to be alone and helped facilitate relaxed sexual attitudes in dating couples.
Having a car is a good thing for those who travel a lot or need to be on the move at all times. One of the biggest benefits is that it saves time and money on cab or bus rides. It also provides you with the flexibility to choose your destination at will and not have to wait for a specific bus or train.
Another reason for owning a car is that it makes emergencies much easier to handle. It is not uncommon for something to go wrong on the road and having a vehicle within reach can be a lifesaver. It can also help you get out of a bad situation more quickly than waiting for others to pick you up or trying to find an empty taxi.
The first cars were developed in the late 1800s. The inventor Siegfried Marcus developed the automobile’s internal combustion engine fueled by gasoline. He built a prototype in 1870. The first automobiles were expensive, but mass production and cheap raw materials made them more affordable. Henry Ford’s assembly line technique greatly reduced the cost of car manufacturing, and he offered low prices to middle-class Americans. A stark contrast is visible between the 1901 Mercedes and Ransom E. Olds’s one-cylinder, three-horsepower, tiller-steered one-cylinder car with a curved dash. The latter was considered a state-of-the-art design when it was introduced in 1906. The Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal called it “the very first instance of a low-cost motorcar based on a high standard of mechanical efficiency.” The auto industry soon realized the potential of marketing vehicles to middle-class consumers as well as upper classes. By 1924 it was the dominant economic force in American society. It is a force that is still at work today, though now it is being countered by forces from the information age, such as electronic media and computers.