Automobiles are a vital mode of transportation in most of the world. They allow us to get around without having to depend on the schedules and reliability of public transport systems, which can often be unreliable.
Generally, to be considered an automobile, it must have four wheels, be designed for passenger transportation and be powered by an internal combustion engine using a volatile fuel. Most cars today are powered by gasoline, but they can also be powered by electricity or even by water. Trucks, vans and buses, as well as limousines, all fall under the automobile category, too.
The history of the automobile is a complex one. While some people credit Karl Benz with inventing the first true automobile, there are many others who contributed to its development. Throughout the years, several different types of vehicles have been used to carry people from place to place – steam, electric and gasoline-powered cars.
The gas-powered car became the standard form of transportation after it was introduced in the late 19th century. It became possible for families to travel long distances and get to work on time. Manufacturing methods like the assembly line, pioneered by Henry Ford, revolutionized the industry and made it much more affordable to have a car. As a result, the automobile has become an indispensable part of life for most Americans, who drive over three trillion miles (five trillion kilometers) each year on average. This is far more than the amount of miles traveled by airplanes or ships.