An automobile is a motor vehicle designed for transportation of people and goods. It has four wheels and is normally powered by an internal combustion engine, usually gasoline. The term “automobile” is often used interchangeably with the more common term “motorcar.”
In modern society, the automobile plays an important role. It provides transport for the growing number of people. Using an automobile, an individual can travel over three trillion miles each year. In the United States, the population drives about 4.8 trillion kilometers each year. The automobile plays an essential role in economic growth.
Today’s cars are made from thousands of component parts and are a highly complex technical system. Their development is based on new technologies, advances in manufacturing techniques, and safety legislation. They are also influenced by competition between manufacturers all over the world.
Automobiles are one of the most universal and important modern technologies. They have been used in different forms for centuries. Their origins date back to the 17th century when Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot built a self-propelled cart powered by a steam engine. In 1600, Simon Steven of Holland constructed a similar vehicle.
The first proper automobile was the Benz Patent-Motorwagen. The German automaker Karl Benz developed the first automobile by using bicycle parts and an internal combustion engine. He patented many innovations including a water radiator, spark plugs, and a carburetor.
The first modern-day automobile was the Motorwagen, a three-wheeled motor car patented in 1886 by Carl Benz. In the mid-19th century, bicycle builders Ernest Michaux and Sylvester Howard Roper developed a similar contraption.
During the early part of the twentieth century, the automotive industry grew rapidly. The advent of manufacturing techniques and assembly lines reduced the cost of producing automobiles. This made them accessible to middle-class families. In the 1920s, the gasoline-powered automobile overtook the streets of Europe and the United States. Its popularity led to the creation of the “Big Three” automakers, Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.
The development of the modern automobile was accelerated by the government subsidies. After World War II, the automotive industry rebounded and sales increased. This was attributed to a strong economy and low interest rates. A few years later, the Asian economic crisis led to a sharp decline in production. However, the numbers have slowly recovered. In 2012, global automobile sales reached a record of 1.43 million vehicles.
A vehicle’s stability and performance depend on the weight distribution. It must be resistant to extreme operating conditions and be durable. It is also necessary to provide a wide range of passenger comfort options. A clear all-round vision through glass areas is an important feature of an automobile.
The automotive industry is among the largest industries in the world. It is also a key contributor to the economy and social progress. In the United States, it has been an economic driver, boosting per capita income and making the purchase of an automobile more affordable for many.
In the United States, the number of vehicles is rising annually. The American automobile market is split into several segments, including commercial and passenger cars. The majority of the total market, 56 percent, is for commercial vehicles. The rest is comprised of special purpose vehicles such as ambulances. During the past few decades, the automotive industry has been subject to strict operational parameters. Those parameters have included limiting speeds to a certain level and forcing drivers to follow posted speed limits.