An automobile is a wheeled vehicle with seating for one to seven passengers, powered by a motor. It is classified as a passenger car, although vehicles with more seats are also known as limousines, minivans or vans. The branches of engineering that deal with the manufacture and technology of automobiles are called automotive engineering.
Automobiles have changed society in many ways. For example, the automobile has made it possible for women to work jobs that are typically roles of men and travel around the country by themselves. During the 1910s and 1920s there was a push for women’s right to vote so they used their cars to promote that cause. They drove around with “votes for women” banners and gave speeches from their vehicles. Without the automobile, it would be hard to imagine life in America today.
Aside from giving people more freedom, automobiles have also created new industries and jobs. For example, oil companies were born because of the demand for fuel. Other new businesses included rubber and plastic companies. There are also a lot of jobs related to the maintenance and repair of automobiles.
The first automobiles were run on steam, electric power or gasoline. Steam engines could go fast but had a short range. Electric cars used batteries but had a very slow speed. Gasoline was the most popular and convenient fuel source for automobiles. The American manufacturer Henry Ford greatly outpaced his European competitors by reconciling state-of-the-art design with moderate price. The Cycle and Automobile Trade Journal wrote in 1906 that his four-cylinder, fifteen-horsepower Model N was the very first car to combine “astounding performance with a minimum of expense.”