Automobiles are a major part of the modern world, and they have many different uses. They are the main form of transportation for many people, and they also serve as a form of recreation for others. Cars can be used for transporting goods or people, and they can carry more passengers than buses or trains. Some cars can even reach places that are inaccessible to other vehicles. There are also special “off road” vehicles that can be used for extreme conditions such as deserts or mountains.
The automobile was first invented in the late 1800s and was perfected in Germany and France by engineers such as Karl Benz. Then, in the 1920s, American businessman Henry Ford innovated mass-production techniques that made it possible for middle class families to afford a car. The result was that the automobile overtook the streets and highways of the United States and Europe, becoming an essential part of modern life.
Today, there are about 1.4 billion automobiles in operation worldwide. They have become the primary means of family transportation, and their average passenger travels more than three trillion miles (five trillion kilometers) a year. In fact, it would be nearly impossible to imagine modern life without the automobile.
Modern automobiles are complex technical systems involving numerous subsystems that have specific design functions. They employ thousands of component parts that have evolved from breakthroughs in existing technology and from new technologies such as electronic computers, high-strength plastics, and novel alloys of steel and nonferrous metals.