Automobiles have revolutionized the way people live and work in industrialized nations. Entire societies have been restructured around the power of rapid, long-distance movement conferred by automobiles and around the flexible distribution of goods made possible by trucks. However, automobiles can cause pollution when too many of them are used in a small area. They can also produce traffic congestion, which slows their use.
Invented in the late 1800s, the automobile was first perfected in Germany and France toward the end of that century by such men as Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz, Nicolaus Otto, and Emile Levassor. In 1901 Wilhelm Maybach designed the Mercedes, considered by many to be the first modern motorcar.
In the United States, the automobile became a major force for change during the 1920s. It was one of the largest sources of new jobs and a major consumer of ancillary industries, such as steel, petroleum, and rubber. It also caused social problems, such as traffic jams and accidents and led to demands for licensure for drivers and safety regulation at the state level.
The basic design of an automobile is a chassis, or frame, to which are attached the engine, steering assembly, and suspension. The chassis must be strong enough to support the weight of the car, yet flexible enough to absorb shocks and jarring motions. The chassis is also equipped with a system for delivering coolant, or water, to the engine and for lubricating the moving parts.