The automobile is one of the most significant inventions in modern times. It is also a cultural icon. It is a wheeled motor vehicle that runs on roads and seats one to eight people. The term also refers to the branches of engineering that deal with the design, manufacture and operation of automotive vehicles.
Automobiles are designed for passenger transportation and can be powered by gas or electricity. Those that run on gas are usually called petrol (or gasoline) cars, while those that run on electricity are generally known as electric cars. The automobile is the dominant mode of land transport in the developed world, and it is used by millions of people around the globe each day.
Modern life would be unthinkable without the automobile. It provides rapid access to places in the city or countryside. People can use it to visit friends or relatives or even go shopping for their daily needs. Automobiles also enable people to pursue leisure activities, such as traveling and going for vacations.
The history of the automobile dates back several hundred years, when scientists and engineers were working on ways to improve steam engines. In the 1880s, German inventor Karl Benz built an automobile that ran on internal combustion, and he received a patent for it in 1886. Other inventors and engineers followed with their own designs. By 1900, three fuel sources were competing for the automobile market: steam, battery power and gas. Steam-powered cars could travel at high speeds, but their boilers were often difficult to start, and they only had a limited range. Gasoline-powered automobiles, on the other hand, could travel farther and faster than their battery-powered counterparts but required regular refueling.
By 1920, the gasoline-powered automobile had become the dominant form of transportation on most roads in Europe and the United States. By this time, the technological advances that had made the automobile possible were beginning to slow down. Henry Ford, an American businessman and engineer, introduced new manufacturing techniques at his Highland Park, Michigan, plant, enabling him to bring the price of the Model T down until it became affordable for middle-class families.
Today, most automobiles are powered by a water-cooled, piston-type internal combustion engine. These engines may be geared to drive the front wheels, the rear wheels or both. The power from the engine is transmitted to the rear or front wheels through the transmission system. Some vehicles are also equipped with an electric motor for auxiliary power.
The automobile has a significant impact on society and economy, providing people with access to jobs and services in distant areas and giving them the freedom to travel long distances. It is important for society to develop laws that promote safe driving and protect the environment from the adverse effects of automobile pollution. In addition, the automobile has led to the development of new industries such as motels, hotels and recreational facilities for motorists. It has also helped create new services such as fast food restaurants and grocery stores, which have opened in urban areas to cater to the needs of automobile drivers.