Automobiles are motor vehicles that are built to carry people and transport things on land. They are one of the most common modern technologies and one of the most widely used means of transportation. They can be powered by chemical energy found in gasoline or electrical energy from batteries. The amount of energy the engine or motor can send to the wheels is called power, and is usually measured in kilowatts or horsepower. Cars can be driven with a manual transmission or automatic transmission, depending on their intended purpose.
The invention of the automobile revolutionized transportation in the twentieth century. People could travel farther and faster in cars than they had before, giving them access to jobs, homes, schools, and entertainment. Automobiles also provided new services such as hotels and restaurants, and made it easier for people to get food, clothing, and supplies. They brought new laws and regulations such as seatbelts, highway rules, and driver’s licenses. However, the automobile also caused harm to the environment, with exhaust from gas-powered engines producing pollution and taking up valuable undeveloped land. It also took time to build the highway system to accommodate the growing number of automobiles.
There are more than 1.4 billion cars in operation around the world today and about 70 million new ones are made each year. Most of them are passenger cars. Passenger vehicles have become the dominant form of personal transportation, with many people owning multiple cars to meet their various needs.
In the beginning, only the wealthy could afford to have automobiles. Engineers and inventors tried to improve on the early designs, and in 1885 German engineer Karl Benz invented the first practical gasoline-powered automobile. He patented his Benz-Motorwagen, or “automobile,” and the company that produced it began selling cars to middle class families.
Henry Ford innovated mass production techniques that allowed manufacturers to produce cars at a much lower cost than in Europe. By the 1920s, American car companies had dominated the market. When the United States fought in World War II, manufacturers funneled their resources to the war effort and auto production fell to a record low. By the 1970s, Japanese and European cars were becoming more popular in America.
Modern technological advances have improved the automobile’s performance, safety, and comfort. Research and development engineers continue to work on improving the body, chassis, engine, drivetrain, and control systems of automobiles. They are also working on alternative fuels to reduce the dependence on petroleum.
There are several ways that cars can be grouped, depending on their design and how they are used. There are front-engine, rear engine, and mid-engine systems, with each having advantages and disadvantages. The most important feature of an automobile is that it provides a convenient way for people to get from one place to another. This is especially useful when traveling long distances. In addition, having a car at hand helps during emergencies. It can help people reach hospitals or doctors faster, and it allows them to visit friends and family in distant places.