The Importance of Automobiles
Automobiles are a vital part of the modern world, without which many of the luxuries we take for granted would not be available. They are a major source of power and provide a vital link between the people. Automobile Engineering is a branch of engineering that deals with the manufacture and technology of automotive vehicles, which are designed primarily for passenger transport. Automobiles are complex technical systems, and they have several major subsystems, including the engine, transmission system, electrical systems, cooling and lubrication systems, tires, wheels and axles, and the body. All of these systems are interrelated, and each one is designed to function with the others.
In modern times, few inventions have had a greater influence on the history and economy of our world than the automobile. Its impact has been felt far beyond the sphere of human travel, as it has transformed our environment and shaped the way we live. This is largely due to its ability to transport people and goods at very high speeds. Moreover, it has given us a sense of freedom and mobility that is unparalleled by other modes of transportation.
Originally, the automobile was perfected in Germany and France toward the end of the nineteenth century by such men as Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz, and Nicolaus Otto, though our knowledge about the invention has since become more refined. The 1901 Mercedes, designed by Wilhelm Maybach for the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, arguably deserves the distinction of being the first true automobile in all essentials. In contrast, the 1904 Ransom E Oldsmobile, a tiller-steered one-cylinder, three-horsepower, curved-dash runabout, was essentially a motorized horse carriage.
As cars became less expensive to buy and operate, they could serve the long-standing predilection of most Americans for freedom of movement, action, and living that was not matched by a clarity about the responsibilities necessarily associated with such freedom or by any higher guiding principle about how to live together as a society. As a result, people moved away from the city centers into sprawling suburbs in which each family had its own enclave of house and lawn.
The United States had a great need for automobile transportation because of its vast territory and its hinterland of scattered and isolated settlements. The American manufacturing tradition, along with cheap raw materials and a lack of tariff barriers, encouraged the development of new firms that made cars at lower prices than in Europe.
By the 1920s, automobile ownership was widespread in America, and it soon became the backbone of a consumer-goods-oriented society. It also was a leading employer in the country and one of its chief consumers of steel, petroleum, and other industrial products. By the end of the twentieth century, it had surpassed rail as the primary mode of transportation. Today, the car continues to be the dominant force shaping our lives. New technological developments, however, are threatening to replace it. As the Automobile Age melds into a new age of electronic media and computers, we will see what the future holds for this indispensable tool of modern life.