What Are Automobiles?

Automobiles are vehicles that use an internal combustion engine to power a motor. Most automobiles are designed to be driven on roads, have four wheels, and have seating for one to seven people.

The term automobile was first used in 1885 to describe Karl Benz’s gasoline-powered automobile. Although steam, electric, and battery-powered automobiles existed earlier, these did not achieve the widespread popularity that gasoline-powered automobiles did. In the early years of the automobile, people were able to move farther and faster than they could on foot or horseback. The automobile gave them more access to jobs, places to live, and leisure activities. In turn, this helped businesses develop. Hotels, restaurants, and amusement parks opened to serve people traveling by car. The automobile also caused harm to the environment because it polluted the air and destroyed undeveloped land. It also led to new laws and government requirements, such as safety features and driver’s licenses.

Today, there are more than 590 million automobiles worldwide (about one for every eleven people). Most of these are privately owned, but some are operated by public transportation companies and other organizations. There are also special cars for some types of work, such as a road roller at a construction site or a fork-lift at a warehouse.

The majority of automobiles burn petroleum products as fuel, mostly gasoline, but also diesel or kerosene. Upon burning, the fuel powers an internal combustion engine that uses that energy to make the vehicle move. The power from the engine is then transferred to the wheels through a transmission system. Most modern automobiles have a variety of systems to keep them safe and running smoothly, including antilock brakes, electronic stability control, air bags, and seat belts.

A major change in the automobile industry came when Ransom Eli Olds introduced his production-line manufacturing at his Oldsmobile factory in 1902. Henry Ford followed suit, and his Model T automobile became a hit. It was affordable to many middle-class families, and the automobile became a staple of American life.

Many different kinds of cars are available, from small sedans to big SUVs. Some are designed to be speedy, while others are built for hauling heavy loads or going off-road. Many of these automobiles are made by multiple manufacturers, which allows competition to keep prices low and quality high.

A car is important for emergencies, as it gives people the freedom to travel without having to rely on other people or public transportation. A car can be used to get to work or school, go shopping, visit friends and family, or get help with an emergency situation. Having a car is a great convenience, and it can be especially useful during pandemics, when people must adhere to social distancing regulations. Without a car, it can be hard to follow these regulations. Having a car means that people can quickly get to their destinations, and avoid getting sick or hurt in the process. This article was written by John L. Smith and was last updated by Editor in May of 2021.