Automobiles are self-propelled vehicles for passenger transportation on land. They usually have four wheels and an internal combustion engine, most often powered by gasoline (a liquid petroleum product). Modern automobiles are essentially mass-produced, with many thousands of variants being produced every year. The design of an automobile depends on many factors, and compromises must be made to satisfy a wide range of objectives. For example, an automobile designed for off-road driving must have simple systems that are highly resistant to damage and operate reliably in a variety of operating conditions. Likewise, an automobile designed for high-speed driving must offer a combination of enhanced steering and handling capabilities with optimized fuel efficiency.
The basic building blocks of the automobile have existed for several hundred years, and a great number of inventors have contributed to its development. The first automobiles were powered by steam, electric power, and, later, by gasoline. Steam cars could reach high speeds, but they were expensive and difficult to start, while electric car engines had a limited range and required lengthy stops to recharge. The breakthrough that created today’s automobile was the invention of a gas-powered internal combustion engine by Karl Benz in 1885/1886.
Automobiles play a vital role in modern life, providing convenience, safety and security for families. Having a private vehicle gives you the freedom to travel at your own pace and get where you want to go when you need to. In addition, owning a vehicle provides peace of mind that public transportation simply cannot match, and allows you to get help when the unexpected occurs.