Automobiles are self-propelled passenger vehicles that use an internal combustion engine to power a system of wheels and tires. They are one of the world’s most important inventions and have changed the way people live, travel, work, and socialize.
The modern automobile combines fuel efficiency and speed to offer the mobility and flexibility of use demanded by an enormous variety of lifestyles and industries. It has become the dominant vehicle of choice for most Americans and has had a major impact on American society, economy, and culture.
The first automobile was developed in 1885 by German engineer Karl Benz and was the product of his pioneering work on the design and construction of an internal combustion engine. He also patented several innovations that led to the development of automobiles as a viable transportation alternative.
During the late nineteenth century, a number of companies began to manufacture cars. During the early twentieth century, automobile manufacturing grew rapidly and became a substantial part of the American economy.
As the automobile industry expanded, it absorbed many related industries and technologies. The earliest automobiles used horse-drawn carriage bodies and wheels, but by 1900 most automobiles had been produced in factories using mass production techniques that had been applied in other industrial fields.
By 1910, the automobile had surpassed the wagon and carriage industry as the most important economic factor in America. Manufacturers responded to the burgeoning market for automobiles by expanding their businesses and introducing new models. The resulting increase in demand resulted in a dramatic growth in the number of manufacturers and in the quantity of vehicles manufactured, from about ten thousand in 1900 to 458,500 in 1910.
The development of an automobile’s design is a complex process that requires consideration of many factors and trade-offs between different features and technologies. The various components of an automobile, such as the frame, body, wheels, suspension, steering, braking, and other systems, are all designed to operate together.
While there have been many improvements and technological developments since the early twentieth century, the basic elements of automobile design remain relatively unchanged. The basic skeletal structure, called the chassis, provides support for all of the wheels, suspension, steering, and braking systems.
A car’s frame is constructed of metal (often steel) or other materials, depending on the type of vehicle. Some of the frames used in automobile manufacturing are made of stainless steel, a material that is highly corrosion resistant. Other frames are made of aluminum, which is lighter than iron and can be formed into many shapes and sizes.
Traditionally, the car’s frame is bolted together and then riveted. But in recent years, welding has become an increasingly common technique for making automobiles. This method of joining the frame together allows for more precise and secure connections, which reduces the chance of a failure.
Other advances in the automotive industry have centered on the use of petroleum-based products, including plastics and vinyls, as lightweight materials for automobile body parts. These lightweight materials can cut down on fuel consumption, which is a major concern for consumers these days. Some cars are now capable of traveling hundreds of miles on a tank of gas. These lighter cars can also be more maneuverable than heavier cars on the road.