Automobiles are wheeled passenger vehicles that carry people. They are powered by internal combustion engines or electric motors. They can have four to eight wheels. They are designed for primarily use on roads and have seating for one to seven passengers. The branch of engineering that deals with automobiles is called automotive engineering.
The development of the modern automobile began in the late 1800s. The first cars were steam, electric, and gasoline powered. Steam cars could travel at high speeds but had a short range and were difficult to start. Electric cars had the advantage of being easy to start but they were slow and required frequent charging. Gasoline cars were quick, powerful, and affordable. They were also versatile, allowing drivers to go further than walking or riding a horse.
Car accidents have been recorded for centuries. Early examples include Joseph Cugnot’s destruction of his steam-powered “Fardier” against a wall in 1771 and Mary Ward’s death in the United States on August 31, 1869. The Model T from 1908, produced by Henry Ford, was a significant step forward. It was cheap, reliable enough, and stripped-down to allow for third party add-ons.
The automobile has changed society, industry, and everyday life in many ways. It has provided greater freedom for people to travel and work. It has helped to develop towns and cities, creating jobs in the construction and maintenance of the road system. It has created new industries to supply the fuel, parts, and other materials needed for cars. It has also caused problems such as traffic congestion and air pollution.