Automobiles are the dominant means of transport for billions of people around the world, delivering the promise of speedy travel and convenience to everyday people. Having been around for over four hundred years, automobiles are one of the most significant inventions in history. During this time they have had an enormous impact on society and the economy, changing the way people work and live. Today more than 4.25 million people work directly in the automaking industry. There are 1.4 billion cars in operation worldwide and 70 million new vehicles are built each year. The modern automobile is a complex technical system that uses thousands of component parts with specific design functions. These components are designed to meet the challenges of ever-changing automotive technology and safety regulations.
The science and technical building blocks of the automobile go back several hundred years. In the late 1600s Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens invented a type of internal combustion engine sparked by gunpowder. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that the automobile became a practical transportation device for common people. During that time, steam, electric and gasoline powered cars competed with each other until gas engines achieved dominance.
Passenger cars account for the largest portion of vehicles in use. Having evolved from the horse-drawn carriage, passenger cars have become the primary mode of personal transportation for many families. They have a number of benefits including safety, convenience and freedom. They also offer a mode of transport that can help people to reach medical and social services quickly and efficiently.
Despite their great convenience and utility, automobiles have a few inherent problems. They can be prone to mechanical failures, and they are often driven by human beings who make mistakes that can lead to accidents. Moreover, they have wheels that may lose traction and a high centre of gravity that can cause them to roll over. These issues can lead to injuries and fatalities.
The automotive industry is a major economic factor in most countries. In the United States, it’s one of the largest industries and employs more than 4.25 million people. It is also a major consumer of energy and produces large amounts of greenhouse gases. Because of these issues, environmentalists aren’t the biggest fans of most automobiles.
Although the earliest automobiles were built using steam, electric and gas engines, the first gasoline internal combustion car was created in 1885/1886 by Karl Benz of Germany. The Benz Motorwagen featured the first two-stroke gasoline engine, which used less fuel and produced fewer harmful byproducts than its predecessors. Benz’s other innovations included the spark plug, accelerator for speed regulation, battery ignition and the first automobile brakes.