Usually, an automobile is a four-wheeled vehicle designed to carry a driver and a passenger. However, automobiles may also be designed to carry a small amount of cargo. Traditionally, automobiles were powered by a steam engine. However, in the late nineteenth century, the invention of the internal combustion engine allowed automobiles to travel at faster speeds. In the early twentieth century, the gasoline-powered automobile overtook the streets of the United States and Europe.
The word automobile comes from the Greek prefix auto, meaning “in motion,” and the Latin word mobilis, meaning “to move.” Automobiles were first built in the late 18th century as bicycle-like contraptions. Early engines had wooden carriage wheels. The steam engines used in early automobiles were heavy and inconvenient to start. However, by the mid-19th century, better steam automobiles were becoming more common. These vehicles could go faster than the bicycles that had previously been used.
The first self-propelled automobile was built in Paris in 1789 by Nicolas Joseph Cugnot. His carriage had three wheels and a boiler in front. His carriage traveled at a speed of three miles per hour. In 1801 a British engineer, Richard Trevithick, built a three-wheeled steam-driven car.
In 1867, Sylvester Howard Roper, a bicycle builder, invented a similar machine. He named it the Stout Scarab and designed it to carry several passengers. The Stout Scarab was an important precursor to the modern minivan.
A modern automobile is a highly complex technical system. It has thousands of component parts that work together to provide safe, reliable transportation. Manufacturers often employ scientists to test and improve the vehicle. These vehicles include features such as air bags, a steering system, and a suspension system. Some automobiles also have a roof and windows to keep passengers safe from the weather. In the United States, about one-quarter of passenger cars are manufactured by foreign manufacturers.
Modern automobiles are fueled by gasoline, but some are also powered by electric motors. Electric automobiles are often slower than gasoline-powered automobiles, but they can be operated in an all-electric mode. In 1999, automobile manufacturers introduced gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles to the consumer market. These vehicles have steadily increased in sales in the 21st century.
Automobiles are an important part of modern society. They can transport a large number of people and goods, and are also faster than walking or bicycles. However, they can also cause damage. There are many hazards associated with automobiles, such as traffic congestion and air pollution. In addition, too many automobiles can also contribute to climate change.
Modern automobiles are based on an internal combustion engine, which uses gasoline, kerosene, or diesel. The internal combustion engine uses a fuel explosion to push the piston down, turning the wheels. Power can then be transmitted to the front and rear wheels through a transmission. The power of the engine is usually measured in horsepower.
Many modern automobiles are designed to carry more than two passengers. They may also include features such as side air bags and seat belts to protect the passengers. In addition, manufacturers often improve the body of the car, the engine, and the drivetrain.