Automobiles are a key part of the American economy. They play a significant role in the social life of people and create a sense of pride and independence when owned. They allow families to travel further distances and enjoy time together. They also provide convenience and ease of transportation compared to public transport. Whether for work or for a late night ice cream run, an automobile makes life easier.
In the early 1900s, no invention changed the face of America like the automobile. The technology was already in place, but it took Henry Ford to make cars affordable for the average working family. He used the assembly line to produce automobiles and paid his workers a minimum wage of $5 per day so they could afford to buy one.
Modern automobiles are powered by a piston-type internal combustion engine, usually using gasoline, diesel fuel or kerosene to power the engine. The fuel is ignited inside the cylinder, producing an explosion which drives the pistons, turning the wheels of the car. These vehicles are a large part of the economy and society, as they provide transportation to work and school, shopping, recreation and other daily activities. They are of many types, based on their shape and size, engine type, position and layout, whether they are wheeled or tracked, and the number of people they can carry. The branches of engineering that deal with the manufacture and technology of these vehicles are known as automotive engineering.