Automobiles are vehicles that use an internal combustion engine to generate the energy needed for movement. They have four wheels and can seat one to seven people. They are used to transport passengers and goods, and they may have a roof or not. Some automobiles are designed for off-road or limited-access road use, while others are built for high-speed, open highway travel. Automobiles are manufactured by a wide range of companies throughout the world, and their designs and technologies continue to evolve as manufacturers strive to keep pace with consumer demands and technical advances.
The invention of the automobile revolutionized modern life. Today, it would be inconceivable—or at least highly inconvenient—to live without access to a car. There are now over 1.4 billion passenger cars in operation worldwide, with over three trillion kilometers (almost five billion miles) driven annually on average. The automobile was perfected in Germany and France toward the end of the nineteenth century by men such as Gottlieb Daimler, Karl Benz, Emile Levassor, and Nicolaus Otto. The 1901 Mercedes, designed by Wilhelm Maybach for the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft, is credited as the first true modern motorcar.
ENERGY TO MOVE
To operate, an automobile must have the chemical energy stored in fuel or electrical energy in a battery. This energy is transferred from the fuel or battery to the wheels of the vehicle by an engine or motor, which varies in size depending on the type of automobile. The amount of power that is sent to the wheels is called horsepower.
CARROLLING UP THE STATES
As the demand for automobiles has increased, so too have efforts to make them safer and more environmentally friendly. Many of these developments are being led by government regulators and environmental organizations. Some of the most recent improvements include the development of electronic stability control systems, advanced airbags, and antilock braking systems.
OPENS UP THE WORLD
Owning a car gives you freedom to travel wherever and whenever you want. Whether it is to work, shopping, or visiting friends and family, being able to travel long distances saves time and money, and can be very convenient. Having a car also allows you to be more mobile, which can lead to greater career opportunities and expanded social circles.
Having your own car gives you privacy because you don’t have to depend on public buses or friends for transportation. You can also store your belongings in the trunk of your vehicle if you need to.
During the post-World War II era, the industry experienced tremendous growth as production rose in Asia and Europe to meet consumer demands. By the late 1980s, most major automakers produced vehicles in several countries and sold them around the world. Today, automobile production is a global enterprise with many of the largest companies located in Japan, Europe, and China. Other major producers include GM, Ford, Volkswagen, and Toyota. In addition, there are a number of smaller manufacturers that produce specialty vehicles such as ambulances and fire engines.