Automobiles are a major component of many modern societies, providing the flexibility of movement needed for a wide range of personal and economic activities. They allow people to travel long distances quickly, and they support the distribution of goods and services throughout cities and regions. The automobile has also encouraged sprawl, promoting the development of low-density urban areas that degrade landscapes and create traffic congestion. While cars give their owners great freedom of movement, they can also be dangerous if operated by reckless drivers.
The automobile has a long and varied history, with the first designs dating back to the 15th century. Leonardo da Vinci is considered one of the founders of car design, and a number of steam, electric, and gasoline-powered vehicles were created during the 1800s. Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz independently invented the internal combustion engine in 1885 and 1886, and the automobile as we know it was soon born.
In the United States, the large-scale production of affordable cars was introduced by Ransom Olds at his Oldsmobile factory in 1902. Henry Ford streamlined manufacturing even further with his assembly line in the 1910s. Many innovations in automotive technology have come from the hundreds of small manufacturers struggling to gain attention, including electric ignition and self-starter, independent suspension, four-wheel brakes, the valvetrain (emulating the heart’s regulating system), and various pistonless rotary engines (including Mazda’s Wankel).
Today, there are more than a billion cars in use worldwide. Some are designed to achieve fuel economy, while others may be built for speed or comfort. In addition, most automobiles must satisfy a variety of regulatory requirements, such as air pollution control and safety systems. Thousands of parts make up the modern automobile, and the body and chassis, analogous to the skeletal structure of the human body, support all the other systems.
Automobiles have become central to our lives, and if they are maintained properly, they provide an excellent level of convenience. When used regularly, a vehicle can last for several years and may be easily repaired when necessary. The convenience of owning a car has led to significant changes in society and has helped shape the way we live. It provides the freedom to travel whenever and wherever you want, without having to rely on friends or public buses. Furthermore, you can keep your belongings safe in your car. This is particularly important for those who are always on the move or travel frequently.
The best-selling automobiles this year are the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt EV. Other hot sellers are hybrid vehicles, including the Toyota Prius, Toyota Highlander, and Ford F-150 Hybrid. Brands that consistently perform well in our road tests and reliability ratings are rewarded with high placement on our rankings, while those that struggle are pushed to the bottom of the list. For example, Chrysler has dropped a dozen spots, mostly due to poor reliability of the Pacifica Hybrid minivan. In contrast, Genesis has climbed 12 positions because of improved reliability.