|In many ways, the automobile has been one of the most important inventions of the modern age.
|People have been able to travel much more freely,
|and across much greater distances, than was possible in the past.
|The automobile, which most people refer to as the “car”
|has also had some harmful consequences, such as pollution and accidents.
|However, it is clear that life has changed profoundly as a result of the car.
|Modern cars are very complicated, but the basic idea of how a car works can be described briefly.
|When the keys are turned in the ignition of the car,
|this creates a spark that ignites some gasoline vapor inside a cylinder.
|Then, the rapid expansion of this vapor pushes against a part called a piston.
|The movement of the piston then causes a turning motion in a shaft that is connected to the wheels.
|The wheels turn, and the car moves.
|The invention of the car, and the engines used by cars,
|happened gradually in the late nineteenth century, mainly in France and Germany.
|In the early twentieth century, an American engineer named Henry Ford developed a new way of making cars.
|Instead of having one worker produce an entire car,
|he had each worker perform one part of the production of many different cars.
|This system was very efficient and allowed the mass production of cars.
|The first car to be produced in large numbers was called the “Model T”.
|The Model T Ford and other cars that were soon produced in large numbers
|were cheap enough that many people could afford to buy them.
|Many new roads were built and paved throughout North America to allow cars to be driven from town to town.
|People were able to travel much more easily and to visit places that had previously been difficult to reach.
|Some problems also came with the widespread use of cars.
|One of these problems was air pollution, because car engines burn gasoline,
|which produces poisonous exhaust fumes.
|Gradually, new laws and new technology have led to reductions in the air pollution that is caused by cars.
|Moreover, cars today are much more “fuel efficient” than they were in the past,
|requiring less gasoline to travel a given distance.
|However, this pollution is still a problem because of the many millions of cars that are used each day.
|Another problem has been car accidents, which have caused many thousands of deaths each year.
|During the 1960s, some journalists brought attention to the unsafe features of many cars.
|As a result, the safety of cars has been greatly improved.
|In addition, the use of seat belts is now required by law.
|However, car accidents continue to be a serious problem.
|The future is likely to bring many interesting new changes to the car.
|Improvements in the safety of cars, in fuel efficiency,
|and in the cleanliness of car emissions are continuing to be made.
|Also, the increasing use of the car in economically developing countries will probably have important effects upon people’s lives around the world.