Automobiles are the main way most people get around in modern times. They are a large industry, and they have greatly changed the economy and social life of most countries. There are about 1.4 billion automobiles in operation worldwide, with the majority of them being passenger cars. In the United States, there are over three trillion miles (five trillion kilometres) driven each year. The automobile was first invented and perfected in Germany and France, but Henry Ford innovated mass-production techniques that turned the automotive industry into a global enterprise. His Model T ran about six hundred dollars, which put it within the reach of middle-class families, allowing them to experience modern transportation on a massive scale.
Automobiles have brought many new businesses and industries that have helped to create jobs and to open up opportunities for people to travel further distances and to work in areas different from where they live. The automotive industry also has contributed to new government laws and regulations that have brought about safety standards, traffic rules, and other features that make driving safer and more convenient. The automobile has opened up new worlds, but it also has brought harm to the environment through exhaust emissions and by draining the world’s oil reserves.
Some people may be choosing to get out of the car, with many young people opting for public transport where available and even carpooling instead of buying their own vehicle. For most, however, there are still advantages to owning an automobile.