Automobiles are vehicles that use an internal combustion engine to run on roads, carry one or more people and have four wheels. Many types of automobiles have been invented and produced throughout history. These include cars, trucks and motorcycles.
The technical building blocks of the automobile were first developed by scientists and engineers over several hundred years ago. The earliest automobiles used steam, electric power or battery energy to drive their engines. These early vehicles were often slow, expensive and had limited range.
In the 1800s, German inventor Karl Benz built the world’s first automobile that was powered by an internal combustion engine using gaseous fuel. Benz’s design was an enormous leap forward for road transportation and opened the door to mass personal automotive mobility.
As of 2016, the majority of vehicles in the United States are powered by gasoline. Other common fuels for automobiles are diesel and natural gas. The automobile’s development is driven by technological advances in the vehicle body, chassis, engine, transmission, drivetrain and control systems. Automobile manufacturers and suppliers use research and development engineers to design, test and produce new models of automobiles.
There are also a number of benefits to having an automobile. The most obvious benefit is that it allows people to travel to different locations with relative ease. This can mean that work is easier to get to, family visits are possible from more places and a variety of social activities can be enjoyed.
Another advantage is that an automobile can save time, especially in commuting to work and running errands. For busy people, time is a precious commodity and the ability to spend less time in transit means more of it can be spent on things like working or spending time with family.
The automobile also has the potential to increase people’s choices about where they live and what they do for a living. It can be a great option for a person who wants to be self-employed and work from home or for someone who would like to relocate for a better job opportunity.
Despite the positive effects of the automobile, there are some negative aspects as well. Accidents involving automobiles can hurt or kill people. Traffic congestion can be a problem in urban areas. Automobiles contribute to air pollution and are a significant drain on the world’s dwindling oil reserves. Many cities and towns have public transportation options that can be quicker, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than driving a car.
The most popular automobiles in the world are manufactured by companies in the United States, Germany and Japan. The American automobile industry was dominated in the postwar era by Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. The US auto manufacturing industry pioneered modern mass production techniques that became the standard worldwide and greatly increased the number of automobiles sold. However, engineering was often subordinated to questionable aesthetics and nonfunctional styling, and quality declined. As a result, Americans have become highly dependent on automobiles.