Automobiles are vehicles that carry people or cargo and may also be used for special purposes like fire fighting, police, or medical service. There are 1.4 billion automobiles on the road worldwide, making them the most widely used form of transportation. Many people own cars, and they can be very expensive to buy and maintain. They contribute to pollution and can damage the environment, but also provide access to jobs, places to live, and leisure activities. They also have a lot of mechanical parts, so they need a lot of repairs and maintenance.
Most modern automobiles use an internal combustion engine to make the wheels turn, but some run on electricity or steam. Karl Benz is generally credited with inventing the modern automobile, using his four-stroke internal combustion engine. His first car ran on gasoline, and the fuel burned to create heat which turned the crankshaft to drive the wheels. Other inventors built steam and electric cars, but they didn’t work very well.
The car revolutionized American society by giving people freedom to travel and access to jobs and services. It created new industries to produce and supply the vehicles, and it spawned businesses such as gas stations and convenience stores. It also contributed to the growth of leisure activities such as amusement parks, restaurants, and fast food. But cars also bring their own problems, such as traffic jams and congestion. They can be dangerous to pedestrians, and they create pollution and deplete natural resources.