Automobiles are a part of our daily life, a mode of transport that provides convenience and safety for passengers. It is a vital tool for people who need to travel long distances or to places that are not accessible by public transportation. Having your own vehicle also allows you to carry groceries or equipment that may be difficult or inconvenient to transport on public transportation. Additionally, a car offers you a sense of privacy and control over your environment, including the temperature, music and seating.
The automobile has revolutionized our way of life. It has made possible suburbs, interstate highways, and drive-in movies and restaurants. It has also brought new jobs and changed existing ones, including those in ancillary industries that have benefitted from the demands of the auto industry, such as steel and petroleum. But it has also created problems, such as air pollution and a drain on dwindling oil reserves.
Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler, a mechanical engineer, is credited with making the first gas-powered internal combustion engine in 1885. Engineers and inventors such as Karl Benz and Etienne Lenoir continued to improve the design of engines and the vehicles they were used in until the invention of the Model T in 1913 by Henry Ford, a businessman who revolutionized manufacturing using an assembly line. Ford’s approach allowed the automobile to become affordable for most Americans and gave rise to the automotive industry as we know it today. But after the war, market saturation and technological stagnation set in. Engineering was subordinated to questionable aesthetics, and quality deteriorated to the point that by the 1960s American-made cars had an average of twenty-four defects per unit.