Automobiles are vehicles used for transportation of people or cargo. These vehicles are usually propelled by an internal combustion engine using a volatile fuel such as petrol, diesel, CNG or Electricity. The branches of engineering that deal with the manufacture and technology of automobiles are called automotive engineering.
The scientific and technical building blocks of the modern car date back centuries. Christiaan Huygens invented a steam engine in the 1600s, and Samuel Brown experimented with the first industrially applied internal combustion engines in 1826. But it was not until the nineteenth century that Karl Benz patented his Benz-Motorwagen in 1886 and Frederick Seelmann perfected a gas-powered four-stroke internal combustion engine. These breakthroughs allowed for mass production of cars, which revolutionized the economy and culture.
Cars fueled an economic revolution, bringing jobs to the cities, creating new demand for vulcanized rubber and highway design and construction. But they also brought traffic jams and accidents, leading to demands for licensure and safety regulation. And they changed social life as well. With the advent of the automobile, families could go on vacations to places that had been unthinkable before. City dwellers rediscovered pristine landscapes, and rural dwellers could shop in towns. Teenagers found freedom of choice and dating couples benefited from the portable privacy that the car offered.
Today, automobiles have become a central part of American society. Almost every family owns at least one, and the industry is now a global enterprise. But as the era of the automobile begins to fade, other forces are charting a new future for America.