Automobiles are wheeled vehicles that run primarily on roads. They typically carry one to seven people, have four wheels and a chassis, and are designed mainly for the transport of passengers rather than goods. Modern automobiles are powered by internal combustion engines fueled by gasoline or, less commonly, diesel fuel. An automobile’s power may be transmitted to the front or rear wheels or to all four of them, depending on the design.
Cars have been an important part of modern life for more than a century. They have revolutionized family life by providing the freedom to travel and visit new places. They also have become an economic force, supporting a large industry that provides jobs and services to millions of people. In many countries, cars are the primary mode of transportation for most families.
The branch of engineering that deals with the manufacturing and technology of automobiles is called Automotive Engineering. The modern automobile is a complex machine made up of many parts and subsystems. Its mechanical design includes a frame, chassis, and body, as well as the engine and drivetrain. Its electrical system includes the starter, ignition, lights, and battery. The air conditioning, power windows, and entertainment systems are also important components. The car’s steering and suspension are crucial to handling and safety.
There are many different kinds of automobiles, from sports cars to vans. The most popular kind is the passenger car, which is used to transport passengers. There are currently about 1.4 billion passenger cars in operation worldwide, and about 140 million of them in the United States. These cars go more than three trillion miles (five trillion kilometres) each year.
Several people have contributed to the development of the modern automobile. Karl Benz is credited with inventing the first modern car, which was powered by an internal-combustion gasoline engine, c. 1885. Other inventors and engineers, such as Charles Duryea, Emile Levassor, and Ransom E. Olds, built motorized carriages in the 1860s and 1870s, but these had only limited uses because of over-regulation: speed was limited to 4 mph (6 km/h) until about 1896.
The arrival of the automobile transformed American society. It brought family vacations to formerly unreachable destinations, encouraged urban dwellers to rediscover pristine landscapes, and allowed teenagers the independence of driving. The automobile revolutionized business and shopping, and it provided a powerful incentive for ancillary industries, such as steel and petroleum. However, it also introduced many problems, including traffic congestion and accidents, which led to demands for licensure and safety regulations on the state level. It has since come to be regarded as one of the most important inventions in human history. Without it, we could not imagine living in the luxuries of the modern world.