The Automobile and Its Impact on Modern Society


Few inventions in modern times have had so much impact on the history, economy, and social life of so many nations as the automobile. Whether fueled by gasoline or electricity, automobiles power human travel in ways few other forms of transportation have ever done before.

Most automobiles have four wheels and use an internal combustion engine fueled by gasoline, a liquid petroleum product. Thousands of individual parts make up the modern automobile, which has become one of the world’s most universal and widely manufactured of all technologies. The automotive industry is dominated by a few giant firms that have set sales records and production standards.

The design of an automobile depends to a large degree on its intended use. Automobiles for off-road travel must be durable, with simple systems that resist severe overloads and extremes in operating conditions. Automobiles for high-speed, limited-access road systems must have more passenger comfort options, optimized engine performance and improved handling, especially at higher speeds.

Karl Benz is generally credited with inventing the automobile, but Ford was the first to mass-produce cars using an assembly line. In addition to making it easier and cheaper for more people to own a car, this innovation also helped the country become a more industrialized nation.

Automobiles opened up new work possibilities, more places to live in relation to a job, and leisure activities like amusement parks and restaurants. But they also opened the door for environmental damage. Exhaust from gas-powered vehicles contributed to pollution, and the development of highways and associated industries led to the destruction of vast amounts of undeveloped land.