Automobiles are a type of land vehicle which is used to carry people and goods. They are self-propelled and are usually powered by an internal combustion engine, electric motor or diesel fuel.

The invention of the automobile revolutionized the way we transport ourselves. It was also responsible for the development of new industries and jobs that didn’t exist before it.


The scientific and technical building blocks of the modern automobile date back to the 1600s, when Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens invented a type of internal combustion engine fueled by gunpowder. These engines could go at high speeds but had a short range and were difficult to start.

In 1885, German inventor Karl Benz successfully built the first gasoline-powered car. The vehicle, the Benz Motorwagen, became a commercial success in Europe.


Although the United States lagged behind in the development of the automotive industry, the Ford Model T, built by Henry Ford in 1908, became a mass-produced, reliable automobile that was available within reach of most American middle-class households. By 1927, the average price of a Model T was $290, making it one of the most affordable vehicles in America and sparking a nationwide economic revolution in the manufacturing of a new class of semiskilled industrial workers.


By the late 20th century, questions began to be raised about the quality and safety of automobiles produced in the United States, as well as the amount of petroleum being used to power them. This prompted an opening of the market to foreign countries such as Germany and Japan, who produced functionally designed, well-built small cars that were more fuel efficient than American-made models.

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