A vehicle, usually a four-wheeled automobile, used for travel on land. These vehicles are designed to carry passengers and cargo, and may be self-propelled or be propelled by an external power source (for example, a public bus).
The word “automobile” originated in 1890 in Germany. It was first perfected in that country by Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz, but was not popularized in America until after World War II.
Early automobiles were powered by horse-drawn carriages, but most modern vehicles use a water-cooled, piston-type internal-combustion engine. They are usually gasoline fueled; diesel engines, which burn a heavier petroleum oil, are also employed for heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses, or for a small number of family sedans.
Engines are generally mounted in the front of the vehicle, but a few have been located in the rear, and some are air-cooled or liquid-cooled. The type of engine determines the size of the wheels, and how the power is transmitted to them.
The chassis is the frame on which the body of the vehicle is built. The size of the chassis depends on the end-use for which the vehicle is intended.
Other components include the differential, fuel injection, ignition, engine, lubrication system, muffler, shock absorber, steering system, speedometer, and transmission. In recent years, many of these parts have been incorporated into a single system to provide better efficiency and reliability.
The automobile has made life much easier for millions of people. It allows people to move faster and avoid traffic congestion, save time, and have more control over their travel. It also gives people access to jobs and services they could not have otherwise had.