Automobiles and the American Automobile Industry

A car (also called a motor vehicle or automobile) is a wheeled, self-propelled road vehicle that uses an internal combustion engine to move. Powered most often by gasoline, it is the primary mode of personal transportation in the world and is used to travel over three trillion miles per year.

The automobile was invented in the late 1800s, but the scientific and technical building blocks began to come together several hundred years earlier. In the early 1600s, Leonardo da Vinci created designs and models for transport vehicles, while Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens developed an internal combustion engine sparked by gunpowder.

As America’s economy developed during the first decades of the 20th century, more people could afford to purchase cars. As a result, driving became a normal and common activity, and Americans took advantage of the freedom it offered. They were able to travel across the country and even the globe.

But with the freedom came a few drawbacks, including air pollution and the drain on dwindling world oil supplies. In addition, engineering was sometimes subordinated to questionable aesthetics, and quality deteriorated.

Today, a robust auto manufacturing industry supports jobs in all 50 states. Cutting-edge facilities assemble millions of cars each year, and major transportation infrastructure exports completed products to points all over the world. And in a way that few other industries can match, the automotive industry helps drive the American economy and strengthens communities across the nation and the globe.

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