Automobiles, also known as motorcars, are four-wheeled vehicles that can carry passengers. They are often powered by an internal combustion engine, but they can also be electric. The term automobile comes from the Greek element auto, which means self-powered or self-sufficient.
An automobile can be a car, a truck, a bus, or a motorcycle. Each vehicle is constructed in a different manner, depending on its intended use. Automotive designs and technologies have come a long way from the initial bicycle-like contraptions that first appeared in the mid-Victorian era.
Bicycle manufacturers in the United States, England, and Germany were among the first to convert pedal cycles into motorized vehicles. These cycles were usually equipped with a small spark ignition engine and often had a name such as a “pedal cycle”.
After World War II, the automobile industry grew rapidly in Europe and Japan. With government subsidies, automobile sales increased dramatically. In the United States, the manufacturing tradition made cars more affordable for middle-class families.
Automobiles can be used for many purposes, but are most commonly used for transporting people and goods. Modern automobiles are complex technical systems with thousands of component parts. Some of these parts include engines, control systems, safety systems, chassis, and more.
The modern automobile evolved from a need to overcome geographic and social limitations. In the early 19th century, people began to dream of a self-propelling carriage that could be used to transport persons and goods. Eventually, the concept was realized with the invention of the first internal combustion engine.
Automobiles can be considered the lifeline of society. Many people travel three trillion miles each year, and cars are the primary means of transportation. A significant number of cars are built every year worldwide. Approximately one-quarter of the world’s passenger cars are manufactured in the U.S. While the American car manufacturing tradition gave automobiles an advantage over competing foreign brands, the Japanese and European automakers quickly surpassed the US manufacturers.
Today’s automobiles are highly technical and have a great impact on the environment. Automobiles are made to be durable, and to be resistant to harsh operating conditions. For example, off-road automobiles must be able to withstand severe overloads and extreme operating conditions. Similarly, they need to be equipped with high-speed handling and other comfort features.
Since the 1970s, self-cancelling turn signals have become standard on motorcycles. Typically, the front-wheel brake is operated by a lever on the handgrip, while the rear-wheel brake is engaged by a foot pedal. Automatic transmissions are common on vehicles today, allowing for automatic gear changes without the need to change the gear.
Automobiles are made to serve as a mobile platform for speeches and demonstrations, and they have also been used as a “mobile billboard” for women’s suffrage movements. This has helped them become a cultural symbol of women’s modernity.
Currently, there are nearly 70 million passenger cars in the world. Sales of new automobiles worldwide reached a record high of 1.43 million in 2012. Despite the increase in popularity, many car owners have a misperception of what automobiles are.