The modern automobile is a complex technical system that depends on several subsystems that serve specific design functions. The building blocks for the motor vehicle began to take shape in the late 1600s, when Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens developed a type of internal combustion engine that was sparked by gunpowder. By the end of the 1800s, engineers such as Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz and Nicolaus Otto were perfecting the “horseless carriage” in its modern form. At that time, cars were powered by steam, electric power and gasoline.
Pros: The automobile gives people the freedom to travel long distances without depending on public transport. It also allows people to visit places that are inaccessible by other modes of transportation, such as mountains or deserts. Automobiles can carry many passengers and are generally faster than buses or trains.
Cons: Most vehicles are driven on gasoline, which releases carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) into the atmosphere. In the United States, transportation is responsible for 27 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, cars require maintenance and are a financial commitment.
The auto industry is a driving force behind the nation’s economy, supporting more than 9.6 million jobs. Its cutting-edge facilities and major transportation infrastructure help to strengthen communities in all 50 states and export completed products to points around the globe.