Automobiles, or simply cars, are a crucial part of modern life. In fact, it is impossible to imagine our world without them. A car is a self-propelled passenger vehicle that uses four to eight tires and is powered by an internal combustion engine, most often with gasoline (a liquid petroleum product). The branches of engineering that deal with the manufacture and technologies used in automobiles are known as automotive engineering.
The first true automobile was invented by Karl Benz, a German engineer in 1885. Then Henry Ford revolutionized automobile production with the assembly line and his Model T, bringing the car within the price range of middle-class Americans. He also figured out that he could save money on manufacturing by making the basic design of his vehicles the same, so that different models shared parts. This allowed his company to offer a wide range of prices.
One of the biggest changes that the automobile brought to society was that women could now drive and go on trips alone. In 1916 two women even drove across the country to promote the right for women to vote. They decorated their car with “votes for women” banners.
As automobile technology improved, people began to buy them in large numbers, and the demand for oil increased. This lead to new industries and jobs for people to work in the automotive industry, as well as providing services like gas stations. But by the late 1960s, questions started to surface about the safety and fuel efficiency of American made cars. Also there was concern about pollution and the draining of the Earth’s fossil fuel reserves.