Automobiles are vehicles that allow people to travel long distances and move about with relative ease. They are primarily powered by an internal combustion engine, which uses fuel to create steam that drives the vehicle forward.
The modern automobile is a complex technical system with thousands of individual parts arranged into semi-independent systems that perform specific design functions, such as the cooling and lubrication systems, powertrain, electrical system and chassis. These systems interact to support the vehicle’s function, reduce noise and vibration, and control pollution and safety.
Having an automobile gives you freedom to choose where to live and work, as well as the ability to reach far-away locations easily, opening up a greater range of social, recreational and career opportunities. It also means that you can avoid the inconveniences of public transportation, such as long waits for trains or buses or having to be at the mercy of other drivers’ schedules.
While cars make many aspects of modern life more convenient, they have their negative side effects, such as automobile accidents and air pollution, which contribute to global warming and the depletion of fossil fuels. Furthermore, their use encourages sprawl (i.e., straggling, low-density urban development that degrades landscapes and leads to traffic congestion) and exacerbates the problem of wasteful energy consumption.
Cars are now the world’s most popular mode of transportation, with more than 50 million passenger cars produced each year, nearly all of them made in Asia or Europe. The biggest market is China, which surpassed the United States for the first time in 2009.