Automobiles are a vital part of the modern world, but they can also be an inconvenience. In addition to the costs of purchasing and maintaining a car, they can be a nuisance because they cause congestion on highways and main roads. Some people find it difficult to park them, and the pollution they produce contributes to global climate change.
Until the 1920s, automobile production was mostly limited to Europe, where engineers such as Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz and Nicolaus Otto perfected their designs. Eventually, Henry Ford surpassed them all in reconciling state-of-the-art design with moderate price. He developed one of the first assembly lines and produced fifteen million Model T’s, which are still considered some of the most reliable vehicles ever made.
Pros: Cars provide convenience for traveling long distances. They can also take you to places not reachable by foot or bicycle. Many have seats for multiple passengers and ample cargo space. Modern cars come equipped with safety features such as seat belts, airbags and crumple zones that are expensive or impossible to implement on bicycles or two-wheeled vehicles.
Cons: Most cars run on gasoline, which releases carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Drivers can limit their greenhouse emissions by buying fuel efficient cars and keeping them well maintained.
Few industries are as important or influential in twentieth century society as the automotive industry. In the United States it was the backbone of a new consumer goods-oriented economy. It became the largest customer of ancillary industrial products such as petroleum and steel and, in turn, helped revolutionize those industries.