The automobile is the dominant means of transportation in much of the world, with three trillion miles (five trillion kilometres) driven annually. It has revolutionized society and commerce, giving people the freedom to work from home or wherever they choose and creating industries and jobs in a wide range of fields.
The scientific and technical building blocks of the modern automobile go back several hundred years, to the late 1600s when Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens developed an internal combustion engine sparked by gunpowder. Early automobiles used steam engines, which could reach high speeds but had a limited range and were difficult to start. The steam-powered automobiles were replaced by electric and gasoline powered autos, which achieved dominance in the 1910s. American inventor and businessman Karl Benz invented the first car, or motorcar, in 1885.
Automobiles are now a complex technical system, often with thousands of component parts. Some of these have evolved from breakthroughs in existing technology or new technologies such as electronic computers and high-strength plastics. Others have been developed to meet new design requirements and safety legislation. The automobile is a major source of air pollution and other environmental pollutants, as well as a significant consumer of energy and raw materials.
A good quality automobile can run from a few thousand dollars to more than $100,000. A vehicle’s performance depends on its power to accelerate, turn, and brake, and on its ability to handle a variety of road conditions. It also needs to be able to carry the occupants safely and comfortably.
Modern automobiles are designed to be aerodynamic, to use less fuel and create fewer pollutants, and to reduce the cost of maintenance and repair. They are equipped with a variety of safety features to protect the driver and passengers, including seat belts and airbags. The design of the dashboard, instrument panel, and console has been influenced by a variety of factors, including style, ergonomics, safety, and cost.
The smallest and least expensive automobiles are usually built to be easy to maintain and service. They are often based on mechanical underpinnings from other cars, such as the Toyota Corolla and Subaru Forester. These vehicles are popular with consumers, and they often rank high in the Consumer Reports rankings for dependable vehicles.
Having a personal vehicle offers several benefits to family life. It allows parents to travel with their children and take them to school and other activities. It also helps them avoid being dependent on public transport services and the unreliability of the schedules of those services. Having an automobile also offers peace of mind during emergency situations, as you can quickly and easily get to where you need to be. Moreover, it is a great way to make the most of your time by being able to commute to work or other destinations in just a few minutes. You can also plan your route and schedule ahead, making the most of your time and money.