Automobiles are wheeled vehicles used to carry passengers for transportation. They are usually powered by a gasoline internal combustion engine and have four wheels. There are various types of automobiles depending on their purpose. They include passenger cars, commercial vehicles (trucks, tempos etc), special purpose vehicles and construction machinery.
The modern automobile combines advanced technology with social effects that have transformed the way people live and work. Cars are designed to transport people and goods over long distances at high speeds with maximum comfort. They are often equipped with a navigation system and safety features to ensure safe driving and passenger protection.
In the early 1900s, automobiles replaced horse-drawn carriages on roads all over the world. French inventor Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot built the first steam-powered road vehicle in 1769, and Swiss inventor Francois Isaac de Rivaz introduced a practical internal combustion motorized automobile in 1808. The automobile’s greatest impact, however, came when German inventor Carl Benz patented his Benz Patent-Motorwagen in 1886. It was the first practical, marketable automobile for everyday use. The car was a major factor in the economic and social changes of the 20th century, which brought unprecedented freedom to individuals and families.
Initially, only the wealthy could afford to purchase an automobile. By the 1920s, however, production techniques invented by American manufacturer Henry Ford made them affordable to many middle-class consumers. Ford revolutionized industrial manufacturing by introducing the assembly line, which dramatically reduced the cost of making automobiles.
By the end of the 1960s, automobiles had become so commonplace that most Americans did not remember life before them. The popularity of the automobile also spawned new concerns about the environmental and health effects of air pollution and traffic accidents. These problems led to new demands for licensing and safety standards, which eventually gave rise to the contemporary automobile as we know it.
The modern car is a highly complex technical system with thousands of subsystems. Some of these subsystems have evolved from breakthroughs in existing technology, while others have been developed from completely new technologies such as electronic computers, high-strength plastics and new alloys of steel and nonferrous metals. Other innovations have come from new designs and approaches to manufacturing. For example, self-starters, closed all-steel bodies and hydraulic brakes were designed to increase production efficiency and reduce operating costs.
In addition to their role in personal transportation, automobiles are important tools in the global economy and in national defense. They have made it possible to distribute raw materials and finished products to markets that were inaccessible before the advent of automobiles, and they have increased the productivity of human labor. They have also opened up new opportunities for recreation, leisure and commerce.