What Are Automobiles?


Automobiles are motor vehicles that use an internal combustion engine, most commonly fueled by gasoline, to transport passengers and goods. Known more commonly as cars, they have shaped the world in many ways and have helped create a global economy. Their impact has been both good and bad, encouraging suburban development while causing pollution, traffic congestion, and environmental degradation. The automobile has changed the way people live and work, allowing individuals to move farther distances in less time and creating new industries such as restaurants and hotels.

Passenger cars are the most common type of automobile, with 1.4 billion in operation worldwide and nearly 70 million built each year. Other types of automobile include commercial vehicles such as trucks, tempos and containers, as well as special purpose vehicles like ambulances, fire engines, and police cars.

An automobile is composed of several interconnected systems that work together to make it run. The power-producing engine, which is located in the center of the car, has thousands of individual parts that are arranged into semi-independent systems similar to those of the human body. For example, the engine contains a system to cool the engine with water, a similar system to lubricate it with oil, and a system to supply fuel to the engine. The power from the engine is directed to the wheels by a transmission system, which has a number of gears that provide different ratios of the engine’s revolutions per minute to the wheel speed.

The wheels of the automobile are supported by a suspension system that absorbs shocks from variations in the road surface, maintaining contact with the road as the automobile turns. The chassis, which is analogous to the skeletal structure of the human body, supports all of these systems. The steering assembly and the braking and acceleration systems are attached to the chassis, as is the body, which provides protection and comfort for the automobile’s passengers.

The automobile is a key component of the modern world and plays a major role in the lives of most individuals. It has made possible the rapid movement of people, reshaping entire societies. The automobile has also contributed to the destruction of many landscapes and has encouraged sprawl (low-density, low-rise urban development) that degrades natural resources and creates traffic congestion and air pollution. It has changed the way we live and the way we work, but it is also responsible for much of the social inequality in our society.