Automobiles are four-wheeled vehicles that are powered by internal combustion engines using gasoline or other fuels. They are used primarily for passenger transportation, and have become a symbol of the modern lifestyle. Automobiles are a highly complex technical system with many subsystems that have specific design functions.
The automobile revolutionized American life in the 1920s, becoming the backbone of a new consumer-oriented society. By the end of that decade, it ranked first in value of products and provided one out of six jobs in the United States. It was the lifeblood of a huge new petroleum industry and also the chief customer for dozens of ancillary industrial enterprises, including steel and vulcanized rubber.
OPENS UP THE WORLD: Automobiles enable people to travel over long distances, expanding their work possibilities and social circles. They can be used to visit relatives, attend events and shop for necessities. With the automobile, people have a sense of freedom and independence that is unavailable to those who rely on public transport.
With their car, families can go on vacations to places they had previously been unable to reach. They can rediscover pristine landscapes in rural areas and shop in urban centers. They can take road trips with friends to have fun and relax. But they can also experience traffic jams and accidents, which led to demands for licensure and safety regulation at the state level. This made the automobile a symbol of both the promise and the pitfalls of the 20th century.