Automobiles are four-wheeled vehicles that provide mobility. The modern automobile is a complex technical system whose design functions are determined by many factors, including passenger comfort and safety options, engine performance optimization for road use, high-speed handling, and vehicle stability. Its technological building blocks go back several centuries, to the gunpowder engine invented by Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens in the late 1600s.
The first automobiles were powered by steam, battery-powered electric motors, or internal combustion engines fueled by petrol and diesel fuel. They were comparatively expensive, often only available to the wealthy, and had limited ranges, making long trips inconvenient.
Karl Benz is generally credited with the invention of the automobile, around 1885. However, other inventors and engineers had been working on similar ideas before him, including Gottlieb Daimler, who fitted a horse carriage with an internal-combustion engine in 1886, and Emile Levassor and Armand Peugeot of France, who built automobiles in the 1860s with the help of Daimler’s Stahlradwagen.
In the early 1900s, Henry Ford used modern production techniques to mass-produce his Model T runabouts, reducing their price to a level that middle-class American families could afford. This opened the door to personal transportation as we know it today, and it was soon followed by other automakers.
Cars are a key component of modern life. They allow people to work and live where they want, without relying on public transportation that may not be as convenient or safe in certain situations. And they let us expand our social horizons, going places that were inaccessible or impractical before.