Automobiles are the main means of transportation for people and goods. They are vehicles that move on their own, they have four to eight wheels and are powered by an internal combustion engine or an electric motor. The branches of engineering that deal with the manufacture and technologies of automobiles are called Automotive Engineering.
The word “automobile” comes from the French words auto (self) and mobile (capable of moving). Karl Benz is credited with inventing the automobile in 1885. But it was Henry Ford who revolutionized the automobile industry with his assembly line and Model T, which made the vehicle more affordable to a much wider population.
A modern automobile is a complex technical system comprising many subsystems that have specific design functions. The design of a car can be divided into several areas, including the structure, powertrain and control systems, safety features, aerodynamics, body styling, and storage and seating capacity. Each area requires different materials, parts, and systems to be effective.
The automobile is a symbol of freedom. With its introduction, Americans were able to leave urban centers and create sprawling suburban communities. In this way, they could enjoy their long-standing predilection for individual freedom of movement, action, and living. But this freedom is not without costs. As the world’s oil supplies depleted, questions arose about the environmental cost of cars and their contribution to pollution. Eventually, the demand for fuel-efficient cars increased and newer models came onto the market.