The Advantages and Disadvantages of Automobiles

Automobiles are wheeled vehicles that carry passengers and may be powered by steam, electricity or fuel. Invented in the late 1800s, they are now a major part of modern life. They represent both the promise and the pitfalls of modern life, offering freedom to travel long distances at speed and providing access to jobs and services not available in rural areas. But they also cause pollution, use large amounts of energy and take up valuable space.

Exactly who invented the automobile is debated, but credit often goes to Karl Benz from Germany. His first model, which he called the Motorwagen, used an internal combustion engine fueled by gasoline. It became a popular vehicle, and he established the largest car company in Europe. Later, he moved to America, where his Ford Motor Company produced millions of cars using a production system called the assembly line, in which workers stay in one position and perform one task as parts pass by on conveyor belts.

People who have their own cars can commute to work or run errands without depending on public transportation or asking friends and family for rides. But having a car means spending time maintaining the vehicle, navigating traffic, and finding places to park. It also requires making decisions about how to spend the extra time gained through car ownership.