Automobiles, also known as cars, are large wheeled vehicles designed for transporting people. They are powered by internal combustion engines that burn fossil fuels, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which contributes to global warming. They are the dominant form of personal transportation in most of the developed world. They are popular amongst the middle and upper classes as they provide the flexibility to travel far distances, to work, school and other leisure activities.
Automobile design reflects the vehicle’s intended use, ranging from rugged off-road vehicles to luxury sedans. Modern automobiles are complex technical systems whose design features subsystems with specific functional designs. The development of automobiles has influenced the growth of many related industries.
In the United States, where there was a huge population base to draw upon for automobile demand, manufacturers could afford to make many of the cars they produced available at lower prices than European manufacturers could offer. This resulted in a proliferation of makes and models that were characterized by their advanced designs and styling, but often lacked convenience features like seat belts and windshields.
The invention of the automobile brought with it a variety of social changes that impacted the lives of Americans in ways both positive and negative. In the 1910s and 1920s there was a movement for women to obtain voting rights which, at that time, they did not have. Many of the activists used their cars to promote the cause.