Automobiles are a major part of our society and are used for transportation around the world. They have several different parts including an engine, a transmission system, road wheels, axles, and brakes. They are driven by a fuel such as gasoline, diesel, or kerosene and the explosion of this fuel causes pistons to move and turn the wheels.
One of the biggest changes automobiles have made to our society is that they allow people to travel far distances on their own. This allows people to live in places that would otherwise be too remote to access. People can also visit friends and family with ease. This has greatly changed the way people live and socialize.
Having an automobile also provides people with the freedom of choice and personal privacy. This is because when you are driving your own car, you can choose where to go and what time to leave. It is much more difficult to have the same freedom and privacy when using public transportation or relying on others to drive you places.
The scientific and technical building blocks of the automobile have their roots in the late 1600s when Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens invented a type of internal combustion engine sparked by gunpowder. By the end of the nineteenth century, engineers like Karl Benz and Ransom E. Olds were developing a “horseless carriage” that looked and functioned very much like a horse-drawn carriage but drove at higher speeds. It took until 1920 for Henry Ford to develop the manufacturing techniques needed for mass production of an expensive consumer good.
In addition to creating the automobile, the new industry it spawned provided employment in ancillary industries such as petroleum and steel. Moreover, it gave Americans a sense of pride and ownership in their vehicles. This led to a new sense of personal responsibility and independence that has shaped the character of many Americans, as well as the way they interact with each other and their fellow citizens.
However, the era of annually restyled road cruisers ended with the imposition of federal standards on vehicle safety (1966), emission of pollutants (1965 and 1970), and energy consumption (1975); with escalating gasoline prices following oil shocks of 1973 and 1979; and with the penetration of both American and world markets first by German Volkswagen “bug”-type cars with non-functional styling and then by Japanese fuel-efficient, functionally designed and well-built small cars.
The automobile has become a key force in twentieth-century American society, but it is no longer the force for change that it once was. Instead, new forces are now charting the future. This is the eve of an Age of Electronics. The automobile may be a part of it, but in a different role. This is a tale of a great technological advance whose problems are more complicated and serious than its creators ever imagined. It is the story of an industrial and cultural juggernaut that has transformed American culture in profound ways.