The automobile is a light, self-propelled motor vehicle with four wheels. Usually, they have an internal combustion engine. Automobiles can carry a small number of people or a large number of passengers. They are primarily used for passenger transportation on land. But they can also be used for other purposes.
Cars are made of a variety of different materials. They can have several types of wheels. For example, motorcycles and minivans have three wheels. Some models are side cars. Other designs have a rear engine.
Cars are a vital part of modern society. They are highly technological, highly sophisticated, and require thousands of components. It is estimated that there are 4.8 trillion kilometers (three trillion miles) of driving in the United States every year.
The first car was developed by German inventor Carl Benz in 1886. His invention was the first of its kind. He received a patent for the Motorwagen on January 29, 1886. By 1899, Benz was the largest car company in the world. In addition, he was the inventor of the boxermotor, an internal combustion engine that was used in vehicles.
During the 19th century, steam-powered road vehicles were used, but they were inconvenient. They had short range, and it was difficult to start the engines. As a result, there was a strong reaction against steam cars.
After World War II, the demand for cars increased worldwide. This is when automobiles started to become affordable to middle-class families. A number of companies started to manufacture them. Ford’s Model T became a popular choice in the United States. Eventually, production soared in Japan and Europe.
By the 1920s, the gasoline-powered automobile was the standard, and it quickly overtook the streets of the United States and Europe. Several countries began to manufacture their own versions of cars, and by the early 1990s, car production had spread to many other parts of the world.
However, the definition of an automobile is somewhat unclear. The term is often used to refer to any light, self-propelled, four-wheeled motor vehicle. When the definition is applied to motorcycles, however, it is not as strict.
Originally, the word “automobile” was derived from the Greek word “auto” meaning “of itself.” It has been used to describe a variety of vehicles. Initially, automobiles were bicycle-like contraptions. Later, more advanced designs were created. These included the Stout Scarab, a large, rear-engined machine that carried multiple passengers.
The first commercially-marketed motorcycles were manufactured in Germany and France in the 1890s. Hildebrand and Wolfmuller of Germany beat out the British automakers Royal Enfield and Excelsior Motor Company.
Another important development in the history of the automobile was the invention of the external combustion engine. During the 19th century, steam engines could go up to high speeds, but their range was limited. Consequently, they were inconvenient to use and they were not easily portable.
As a result, more inventors worked to develop more efficient motorcycles. Eventually, more advanced motorcycles were marketed, and by the late 1950s, they had a significant share of the market.