How Automobiles Have Changed Modern Life
The automobile has changed modern life in a way that few inventions have. It now seems impossible to imagine a world without vehicles that enable travel over long distances quickly and easily. In the United States alone, people drive three trillion miles (five billion kilometres) every year. Automobiles have shaped urban design and public services like police, fire and ambulance, as well as private businesses such as gas stations and hotels.
The word is derived from the Latin auto- (“of itself”) and -mobile (“capable of moving”). The first automobiles were powered by steam or electricity, but they soon evolved to run on a liquid fuel called petrol or gasoline (in America, it’s usually called gas) that burns inside a motor that drives gears that spin the wheels. Automobiles that can be driven on paved roads are often referred to as cars, although they may also be described as limousines, minivans, trucks or SUVs. The branches of engineering that deal with automotive vehicle manufacturing are known as automobile engineering or automotive technology.
In the early twentieth century, American manufacturer Henry Ford revolutionized industrial manufacturing by using assembly lines to rapidly produce his Model T runabout at affordable prices for middle class families. Ford’s production methods helped the United States dominate the global auto market, and the resulting growth in demand for automobiles stimulated an economic boom that created new jobs and industries.
Today, automobiles play a major role in the economies of almost all developed nations. In the United States, for example, over 95 percent of households own at least one motor vehicle. Those who don’t own a car typically rent or borrow one, and the automobile has become an integral part of the country’s culture.
The modern automobile is a complex machine with thousands of parts that work together to move a vehicle from one point to another. It is a high-technology product that requires ongoing research and development to make it safer, faster, more comfortable and more environmentally friendly.
In some countries, governments regulate the use of automobiles to limit their environmental impact and air pollution. In addition, many cities and other large areas have public transportation systems that can get people from place to place more quickly and cheaply than an automobile can, particularly when traffic congestion is heavy.
The best automobiles are those that are durable, safe, easy to operate and maintain, and a pleasure to drive. They are designed for a variety of uses, and are rated for passenger comfort, fuel economy, safety and performance by such organizations as J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. They are also ranked for reliability by Kelley Blue Book and user-friendly infotainment features by Consumer Reports. The top-rated models of the moment include the Chevy Tahoe for its powerful engine, advanced tech and high customer satisfaction score; the Audi A6 for its impressive performance; and the CX-9 for its roomy cargo space and user-friendly infotainment system. Each of these models is based on extensive road testing, including crash tests and real-world fuel economy estimates.