Automobiles are complicated vehicles that combine many different systems to power a vehicle, control and steer it and make the driving experience safe for passengers. The heart of every automobile is its engine which provides the power to turn the wheels and produce electricity to light the car. An automobile has a body that houses the mechanical parts and the passenger compartment, as well as the tires and other components of the vehicle. There are many different types of automobiles, from sedans to minivans. The type of car that a person chooses to buy depends on his or her needs and budget.
The automobile has become a key part of twentieth-century society. It enables people to travel farther and faster than ever before. It has also revolutionized the economy. It is the biggest consumer of steel and oil, and it has created jobs for millions of people in the automotive industry and at the gas stations, restaurants and motels that travelers stop at. The automobile has had many negative effects as well. Millions of people die in car accidents each year, and air pollution has increased. Parking space in cities has become scarce, and traffic congestion is often a problem. The automobile has also contributed to global warming.
Before the automobile, human beings moved around by walking, riding horseback or using sailboats. The first successful self-propelled vehicles were steam powered. Inventors such as John Evans, George B. Selden and Siegfried Marcus built crude vehicles that used steam as their fuel. Evans’s vehicle was able to move on wheels on land and on paddle wheels in water. The next major innovation came from Gottlieb Daimler who used a four-stroke internal combustion engine in a bicycle-like handcart.
After the war, auto makers focused on producing cars for the military. In the postwar era engineering was subordinated to nonfunctional styling at the expense of economy and safety. As a result the quality of American-made cars deteriorated. In addition, many Americans were buying big cars that drained the world’s dwindling oil reserves.
In the midst of this turmoil, Japanese manufacturers introduced highly functional and affordable small cars that offered superior fuel economy and driving dynamics. By the late 1990s, a few American manufacturers had regained their technological edge.
Today, BMW is the top ranked brand in automobiles, according to Consumer Reports. Its 7 Series offers skillful balance of luxury, comfort and handling. Other premium marques that rank high are Mercedes, Lexus, Audi and Genesis. Smaller brands such as Toyota, Honda, and Kia also offer quality and value.
The main reason that most people have a vehicle is to get them from one place to another. A vehicle can take you to work, school, shopping, and visiting family members. It also allows you to take vacations. Having your own vehicle saves you the cost of taking public transportation or taxis and gives you the freedom to schedule your own activities. It also means that you can carry things that are too large for most other forms of transport.