Automobiles are wheeled vehicles that carry one to eight people and have a motor that burns fuel to generate power. They are the dominant mode of transport in most countries of the world. Most modern automobiles are fueled by petroleum or gasoline, although they can be powered by electricity, natural gas and kerosene as well.
The automobile has changed many aspects of American life and culture. It gave people more personal freedom and allowed them to travel more quickly to work, shopping, recreation, and other activities. It led to the development of new industries, including automobile manufacturing and road construction. It also brought about new services, such as gas stations and convenience stores. However, it also caused problems such as pollution and a draining of the Earth’s fossil fuel supplies.
Invented in the late 1800s, the automobile is probably the most important invention of the 20th century. Henry Ford revolutionized the automobile industry by using assembly lines to make cars affordable for middle-class families. It was not long before it was almost impossible to imagine living without an automobile. Today, about three trillion miles (five trillion kilometres) are traveled by passenger cars each year in the United States alone.
After a period of stagnation during the 1930s, automotive production grew rapidly with the onset of World War II and increased even further afterward. But in the 1960s and 1970s public dissatisfaction with nonfunctional automobile design, safety issues, and concern over the depletion of the world’s oil supply gave rise to a new generation of small, fuel-efficient, functionally designed cars from Japan and Germany.