An automobile is a wheeled, four-wheeled motor vehicle designed primarily for passenger transportation, usually propelled by an internal combustion engine using a volatile fuel. Automobiles come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, but they all have the same basic systems: an engine, fuel system, transmission, electrical system, cooling and lubrication system, wheels and tires, suspension system, steering, and braking. Each of these components must be designed to interact with and support the other.
The modern automobile is a complex technical system with thousands of individual parts and systems. Its development has been driven by technological breakthroughs such as electronic computers, high-strength plastics, and advanced alloys of steel and nonferrous metals. These advancements have ushered in an era of mass production and assembly line manufacturing, with cars available at affordable prices to the average family. The automobile has revolutionized personal transportation and made life more convenient, comfortable, and safe.
Cars have become the primary mode of transportation for most people in the world. More than three trillion miles (five trillion kilometres) are traveled in cars every year, and more than half of that distance is covered by passenger vehicles. This is more than double the amount of travel by train, boat, plane, and truck combined.
One of the most important benefits of owning a car is that it gives you freedom to travel and explore new places. You can enjoy road trips with your loved ones and take your pets along with you. Having a car also makes it easy for you to visit your friends and relatives, no matter where they are located. In addition, you can use your car to go on shopping sprees.
The first steam-powered automobiles were built in the late 1700s. Several inventors tried to develop automobiles powered by electricity and steam, but only Rudolf Diesel’s gasoline internal combustion engine achieved widespread success in the 1910s. In the early 20th century, Ransom Eli Olds and Henry Ford introduced affordable automobiles to large markets with a revolutionary concept: the assembly line. These factories enabled the manufacture of millions of identical cars at low cost, which in turn pushed the industry forward. Other major developments included electric ignition, the automatic self-starter (developed by Charles Kettering for General Motors in 1910-1911), and independent suspension and four-wheel brakes.
In recent years, manufacturers have experimented with different body styles for passenger cars. SUVs have exploded in popularity, but sedans still have their place in the market as well. They can offer SUV-like space and off-road capabilities, but with car-like handling and fuel economy. The Audi RS6 Avant is an excellent example of this, channeling its 3-series sports sedan cousin with crisp handling and powerful engines. Other examples include the Volkswagen Tiguan and Mercedes-Benz GLA, both of which offer European styling and upscale interiors. In contrast, the Subaru Outback is an example of a utility vehicle that offers SUV capability and space without the fuel-economy penalty. Its 3.6-litre V6 packs 591 horsepower and can accelerate from 0-60 mph in just 3.1 seconds, making it an ideal choice for speedy commuters.