Automobiles, also known as motor cars or automobils, are wheeled passenger vehicles that use an internal-combustion engine to propulsion them. They are designed to run primarily on roads and to have seating for one to seven people.
The automobile is a complex technical system employing a large number of subsystems with specific design functions, such as power generation, transmission, steering, and suspension. These subsystems have evolved over time as a result of changes in the environment and as a result of technological advances.
Some of these subsystems are proprietary to the manufacturer, while others have been standardized by the automobile industry. The design and function of an automobile are affected by many factors, including the end use of the vehicle and the availability of components.
A variety of car body styles are available to meet individual consumer needs. These include the sedan/saloon, hatchback, station wagon, estate, and minivan.
These car body styles vary in the amount of passenger capacity, as well as their luggage and cargo space. Full-size sedans and station wagons typically seat two or three passengers in the front, while sport utility vehicles can usually carry six to seven occupants.
Another important factor in the design of a car is its comfort and safety. For example, a sports car with enhanced steering and handling will be more comfortable to drive at high speeds. It may also be equipped with more sophisticated suspension systems, a stronger engine, and more fuel.
Some automobiles have special purposes, such as ambulances, fire engines, and police patrol vehicles. These cars are designed to rescue and protect people in case of accidents or incidents.
The most common type of vehicle is the passenger car, although there are also some commercial vehicles and motorcycles. The car has been the dominant mode of transportation in the industrialized world since it was developed during the 19th century.
Today, there are more than 1.4 billion passenger vehicles operating worldwide. Most of these are located in the United States, where more than three trillion miles are driven each year on average.
Cars are an essential part of the modern developed economy, as they allow individuals to travel long distances at a relatively low cost. They also help facilitate the distribution of goods by trucks.
Most modern passenger cars are gasoline-powered, and their popularity has grown rapidly over the years. This development has been fueled by the invention of inexpensive, easy-to-maintain engines that have allowed consumers to purchase a car for very little money.
The first automobiles were steam- and electrically powered, but these technologies had serious limitations, including their limited range and the difficulty of starting them. Gasoline-powered automobiles soon became the standard of the day and were quickly adopted in most of Europe and the U.S.
Henry Ford, who invented the assembly line in the United States, developed a method for building automobiles that could be produced at lower costs and faster than previous methods. This process helped him turn the Model T, the first mass-produced American car, into a popular and affordable machine for ordinary people.