Pros and Cons of Automobiles

An automobile is a wheeled motor vehicle designed to carry passengers and operated on roads. It is usually powered by internal combustion engines and uses a volatile fuel such as gasoline, diesel or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Automobiles are generally very expensive and require significant maintenance to keep them running in top condition. An automobile is a complex technical system with thousands of subsystems that have specific design functions. Many of these systems evolved from breakthroughs in basic engineering technology, such as the development of stronger materials like high-strength steel alloys and advanced plastics, or from emerging technologies, such as electronic computers and new alloys of nonferrous metals.


One of the most important reasons for owning an automobile is that it allows people to cover large distances quickly and easily. This can expand social and work opportunities, as it opens up new living arrangements and increases the number of potential friends and acquaintances with whom to share experiences. The ability to travel long distances can also reduce the time spent in commuting, freeing up valuable working hours. In addition, owning a car can reduce the cost of transporting goods and people, especially in rural areas where there are few or no public transportation options.


The most obvious drawback to owning an automobile is the environmental impact, which includes carbon dioxide emissions. This greenhouse gas contributes to global warming, and it is estimated that cars account for 27 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The fact that most automobiles use fossil fuels, including gasoline and diesel fuel, further exacerbates the problem. It is possible to limit the impact by buying a car that uses a different type of fuel or by using other forms of transportation, such as trains and airplanes.

Developing an automobile requires the extraction of numerous raw materials from the earth, including metals, fibers and the sand and quartz used in glass manufacture. Economic, ecological and geopolitical factors strongly influence the sourcing of these materials. Automobile manufacturing uses more raw materials than just about any other industry.

As a result, the automobile is an extremely polluting industry. Moreover, the manufacture of an automobile consumes massive amounts of energy and produces substantial quantities of air pollution and hazardous waste.

The automobile was invented in the late 1800s and quickly became dominant on the world’s roads. Henry Ford innovated modern mass production techniques in his factory, and the automobiles manufactured by Ford, General Motors and Chrysler became known as the “Big Three.” Manufacturers funneled their resources into military equipment for World War II, but the pent-up demand at the end of the war meant that car production boomed again. Detroit’s Big Three took Sloanism to its illogical conclusion in the postwar period, and cars grew longer, heavier, more powerful and gadget-bedecked, while quality and reliability deteriorated. The higher unit profits that Detroit made on these gas-guzzling road cruisers came at the price of increased air pollution and a drain on dwindling world oil supplies.