Automobiles are a huge part of our life today. They are used for both passenger and cargo transport. Automobiles have become a necessity for us and without them, modern life cannot be imagined.
Originally, automobiles were powered by steam, electric motors, or gasoline engines. Exactly who invented the first true automobile is still a matter of debate, but it is generally agreed that Karl Benz invented the four-stroke internal combustion engine in 1885/86.
The invention of the automobile caused many changes for industry and everyday life. New jobs were created in manufacturing cars and ancillary industries such as oil and gas, rubber, and plastics. Automobiles also increased personal freedom and provided new opportunities for leisure activities such as shopping, sports, and travel.
In the 1920s, American automotive companies pioneered large-scale production using the assembly line to make automobiles affordable for middle-class consumers. Throughout the 1920s, the United States led the world in automobile production and held the largest share of the market.
However, as the automobile became more a necessity than a luxury, many problems developed. Automobile accidents were common and often tragic. Air pollution from automobiles was increasing, and it was becoming clear that the reliance on cars would be problematic as world petroleum supplies began to run low. By the 1980s, American automobile ownership had reached nearly universal levels. The Automobile Age was melding into a new age of electronic media and the computer. The future looks uncertain.