What Are Automobiles?

Automobiles are self-propelled vehicles designed to transport passengers on roads. They typically have four wheels and an internal-combustion engine that burns a liquid petroleum fuel. The power of the engine is transmitted through pipes or cables to the tires, which turn the wheels and respond to abrasions and vibrations from the road surface.

The automobile has been the subject of a long and varied series of developments in science and technology. It was first perfected in Germany and France toward the end of the nineteenth century by such men as Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz, and Nicolaus Otto.

In America, the automobile’s most significant social impact began in the early 1900s. The introduction of the car to this country, which had been dominated until then by the horse-drawn carriage industry, brought a new middle class and an affluent industrial culture into the world’s most dominant nation.


A modern automobile is a complex technical system consisting of thousands of component parts. It is designed to respond to changing consumer preferences, safety regulations, and technical demands. In addition to the vehicle body, chassis, and engine, this complex system includes a drivetrain (the transmission of mechanical energy between the front or rear wheels), control systems, safety devices, emission-control devices, and electric and gas fuel pumps.


A well-designed suspension system provides the means for the automobile’s tires to be steered, thus controlling the speed and direction of the vehicle. It is also necessary for the tires to be able to resist the forces of braking, and to absorb shocks and bumps that may occur in the road.


The automobile’s security features are controlled by an electronic system that monitors the operation of the vehicle, detects and reports any faults or abnormalities, and then automatically corrects them. This is an advanced, integrated approach to automotive security that can make the vehicle safer to operate in almost any situation and significantly reduce the number of incidents caused by driver error or other causes.


The development of the automobile has created vast opportunities for people to work and live outside their own neighborhoods. This has created a growing sense of independence and freedom, and also made it easier for people to meet and socialize with others.


A car allows you to travel anywhere you want in a short amount of time. This is especially helpful in a busy society where time is often a precious commodity.


The automobile was the most important industry in the United States in the first half of the twentieth century. The introduction of mass production techniques, particularly the moving assembly line perfected by Henry Ford in Detroit in 1913-1914, reduced automobile prices and put reliable vehicles within reach of middle-class Americans.


As American manufacturing methods became standard, the United States overtook Germany and France as the leading manufacturer of automobiles in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Henry Ford’s innovations helped create an industrial economy in which remunerative industrial employment could be available to both highly skilled and unskilled workers.