The modern automobile is a complex system of mechanical, electrical and hydraulic components that provide the mobility and flexibility of use demanded by an enormous variety of lifestyles. These vehicles are the primary mode of transportation for most of the world’s population. During the twentieth century, automobiles have transformed human society. They have reshaped cities and suburbs, and are the main source of police, fire and ambulance services. They also serve many private purposes, such as vacation travel, shopping and dining. They have greatly increased family and workplace productivity, and they have brought people closer together by providing a means of transportation that allows them to choose when and where to meet.
In the early days of the automobile, there were fierce debates over its value and use. Die-hard horse-lovers snickered at the sight of their roads being overrun by those mechanical contraptions. At the same time, auto-lovers sprang up with claims that cars would be a boon to society. Each side had a point, but in the end it was impossible to prevent the automobile from gaining footing on the nation’s streets.
With its vast land mass, the United States had a great need for automotive transportation. Cheap raw materials and a tradition of industrial manufacturing encouraged automobile production. As a result, American automobiles were available at far less cost than their European counterparts. As automobile technology improved, they became faster and more powerful. Narrow, winding roads with no shoulders or banked curves simply couldn’t accommodate the new speed runs, and from the start automobile accidents were a fact of life.
As the automobile gained popularity, women began driving. They did so for many reasons, but primarily because it provided them with a means to get to work and socialize. This was a radical change for women, who had not previously been able to do these things without the help of men. It also allowed them to go places on their own, which was a great freedom for them.
During the 1910s and 1920s, there was a strong movement for women’s rights and the automobile helped them gain access to voting and other rights. Women drove around with “votes for women” banners and gave speeches from their automobiles. It was a revolutionary change to women’s roles in America.
Automobiles are powered by internal combustion engines and emit a large amount of pollutants. Most are fueled by gasoline, but some run on diesel fuel, wood gas, liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and a mixture of ethanol and gasoline called flex-fuel. The combustion of these fuels produces carbon dioxide, which is known to contribute to global warming.
Although the automobile was once a luxurious status symbol, it now is considered to be a necessity. With today’s hectic lifestyles, it is nearly impossible to function without a car. Cars offer the convenience and efficiency of transportation and can make all the difference in the world during emergencies. They can be used to reach medical appointments, schools or workplaces on time.