Automobiles, commonly referred to as cars are self-propelled vehicles used for passenger transportation. These are generally powered by an internal combustion engine, mostly fueled by gasoline (petrol). Other fuels like diesel, natural gas, electricity are also utilized in automobiles as they are more environment friendly. The modern automobile is a complex technical system, involving many sub-systems which perform specific functions. These include the body, chassis, engine, drivetrain and control systems. These systems are constantly being improved, with the help of technological development and research work.

The development of the automobile as a mass-produced technology has had profound effects on both society and industry. It has revolutionized urban life and brought a new way of living to the world. It has provided a means of transport that is adaptable to a wide range of lifestyles and has become the dominant form of land transportation. It has spawned an enormous variety of industries and services, from the manufacturing of parts to the production of gasoline, rubber and plastics. It has led to the creation of countless jobs and is the major source of income for some families. It has also contributed to the design of cities and has brought a revolution in communications, with its influence extending even into such specialized fields as broadcasting.

When the automobile first appeared, it was little more than a horseless carriage with an internal combustion engine. The basic idea was simple enough, but it took years to perfect. The first modern motorcars were produced in Germany and France toward the end of the nineteenth century by Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz and others. Their designs proved that the automobile could be mass-produced and offered at a moderate price. In 1906 Ford introduced the four-cylinder, fifteen-horsepower Model N car, which Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal called “a remarkable instance of a state-of-the-art motorcar that is offered at a reasonable price.”

Today, over 1.4 billion cars are in operation worldwide. Almost all of these are passenger cars, with a quarter of them in the United States. Passenger cars have become the primary mode of family transportation, and manufacturers offer hundreds of models to choose from. They are manufactured in a variety of shapes and sizes, with engines that run on various fuels, and with a range of features that meet the needs of nearly every type of lifestyle.

The automotive industry is the largest consumer of steel and petroleum products, and it uses the most advanced production techniques in the country. Moreover, it is the chief customer of many other industrial sectors. It has shaped our national economy and culture in fundamental ways and now stands at the edge of a great change. The Age of the Automobile is melding into a new Age of Electronics, and its influence on our lives will be even more profound than it has been in the past few decades. It is important to understand its role in American history and how it has evolved through the years.

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