Automobiles are designed to transport people and goods over long distances. They are a key means of transportation for most of the world’s population. There are over 1.4 billion automobiles in use worldwide. The automotive industry is a major contributor to the economy. It provides jobs for thousands of workers in a wide variety of industries such as steel, glass, chemicals and tyres.
Automobiles were first perfected in Germany and France toward the end of the nineteenth century by men such as Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz and Nicolaus Otto. The 1901 Mercedes was considered the first modern motorcar in terms of its design. Its engine weighed only fourteen pounds per horsepower and reached a top speed of fifty-three miles an hour. In the United States, Henry Ford introduced the Model T in 1914 and revolutionized automobile production with his assembly line techniques. The automobile restructured entire societies, encouraging sprawl (sprawling low density urban development) that degrades landscapes and produces traffic congestion. It has also allowed for the rapid distribution of goods and services but it is a source of pollution and drains dwindling world oil supplies.
There are many reasons for car ownership, but the most important is convenience. Cars allow people to decide where and when they want to travel, without having to rely on friends or public transportation. They also provide a sense of freedom and independence, and offer privacy. Cars can be used to store personal belongings, and may serve as an extension of the home.