Automobiles are wheeled vehicles that carry passengers and are powered by a motor. They have seating for one to seven people, and most have four wheels. They are a key part of the world’s transportation system, ranging from economical sedans to sporty coupes and exotic road-racing cars. Most are designed to operate primarily on roads, with some exceptions such as off-road or off-grid vehicles. In the United States, nearly three trillion miles (five trillion kilometres) are traveled in passenger cars each year.
There are many benefits of automobiles, including increased freedom and independence for the owner. A person with a car can drive to work or school whenever they choose, rather than having to wait for a bus or train. This can be beneficial if they have a busy schedule, as it gives them the flexibility to make changes to their routine based on what is most convenient for them.
The modern automobile is a product of a long series of technological innovations that began in the early 1900s. The most important development was the invention of a reliable gasoline internal combustion engine, which made it possible for mass production and widespread sales. Before this, cars had been propelled by steam engines, electric motors, or, most often, horse power. The gasoline engine was a revolution because it gave the car the speed and range of travel that most people wanted.
Automobile technology has continued to advance quickly, fueled by research and development engineering and by the need for automakers to compete in a very competitive market. New safety and fuel economy systems are regularly introduced to keep pace with ever-increasing government and consumer demands. In order to reduce costs, automakers have developed methods for sharing parts and components across different models in their line-ups. This has resulted in significant cost savings, and also improved the quality of parts and components.
The history of the automobile is a fascinating story. While it is unclear who invented the first automobile, most accounts credit Karl Benz with developing the first true “horseless carriage” in 1885 or 1886. Since then, many other inventors have created a variety of designs and prototypes, and the automobile has become one of the most influential technologies in human history.
The automotive industry is a major contributor to economic development, employing millions of workers worldwide. It has contributed to improvements in other industries, such as computer technology, electronics, and textiles, and is a significant source of revenue for governments around the world. In addition, the industry is a source of innovative technology, such as driver assistance systems and advanced vehicle control systems. These are features that are not only improving safety and efficiency, but making cars more enjoyable for the drivers and passengers as well. Some of these systems are now mandatory, and others will likely become standard in the future.