Automobiles (also called cars) are land vehicles that typically have four wheels and an engine or motor to make them move. They can be used for transportation, sports and leisure activities or in the business world as a means of transporting goods or people.
Cars are the most common forms of personal transportation worldwide. They are estimated to be used by 1.4 billion people worldwide and account for approximately one-quarter of global traffic.
There are many different types of automobiles, ranging in price and style from luxury sports vehicles to family sedans and minivans. In 2005, the world produced 63 million passenger cars and light trucks for sale.
Throughout the history of the automobile, a number of technological advances have made it possible for the mass production of affordable, high-performance, and efficient vehicles. The early days of automobile development were marked by hundreds of small, competing manufacturers. These competing companies often introduced new technologies and improved designs rapidly.
In 1885, Karl Benz patented an internal combustion engine that could power a vehicle. In 1888, Bertha Benz drove her husband’s vehicle for a distance of over 106 km (about 65 miles), earning it wide publicity and encouraging more manufacturers to pursue similar inventions.
By 1900, the automobile had become a successful business venture with a large market share in the United States. Steam, gasoline, and electric engines were the three main fuel sources for cars at that time.
Gasoline powered cars had the advantage of being cheap to run, easy to start, and relatively fast, but they also had a limited range and were difficult to find fuel stations. Steam cars, however, were cheaper and easier to build than gasoline ones.
A variety of engines can be used to power an automobile, including piston-driven, water-cooled, diesel, gasoline, and vaporized fuel (liquefied petroleum gas). The most successful engine designs, however, have been those that use a single crankshaft rotating the engine’s cylinders and a belt driven gearbox to drive the wheels.
Mechanics and engineers are crucial to the automobile industry, as they work on all aspects of design and engineering. They may be responsible for developing the body, chassis, engine, transmission, and other systems in an automobile. They may also be involved in the testing of new vehicles.
In addition, automobile engineers are responsible for developing and implementing safety devices to protect the occupants of the vehicle. Safety features include airbags, specialized child restraint systems and side-impact protection bars in doors and side panels.
The economics of the automobile are complex, involving the costs of ownership, fuel consumption, depreciation, insurance, taxes, and maintenance. Additionally, there are the indirect societal costs of roadway accidents and pollution.
The most important benefit of having a car is that it makes your life much easier and more convenient. Having a vehicle allows you to go on short trips or even cross town in minutes rather than hours, saving you a lot of time. Having a car also means you don’t have to worry about missing the bus or train when you are rushing for an important appointment or meeting.