Automobiles are a major industry, a powerful force that supports a robust economy and communities across America. Cutting-edge factories assemble millions of cars and trucks every year. Massive transportation infrastructure transports finished products to markets around the country and world.
The automobile is a self-propelled passenger vehicle for land transportation, consisting of four to eight tires and powered by an internal combustion engine or electric motor. The branch of engineering which deals with the manufacture and technology of these vehicles is known as Automotive Engineering. Today Automobiles play a major role in our lives and it is very difficult to imagine a life without these luxuries.
Exactly who invented the automobile is a matter of some dispute, although Leonardo da Vinci created designs and models for transport vehicles as early as the 15th century. In the late 1800s, Karl Benz of Germany and Emile Levassor and Armand Peugeot of France began producing automobiles using their versions of the internal combustion engine. Eventually, Henry Ford innovated mass production techniques that made his Model T runabout affordable for middle class families.
As the automobile became more popular, it transformed the United States and society in many ways. It gave people freedom to travel far distances, which facilitated the development of industries and services like gas stations and convenience stores. It also allowed people to move away from cities and into the suburbs where they could live in their own home surrounded by green grass lawns and trees.