The automobile is one of the most popular and most universal of all modern technologies. More than 73 million new cars were sold worldwide in 2017.
Automobiles are four-wheeled self-propelled motor vehicles with an internal combustion engine and usually two or more wheels. They are fueled most often by gasoline, a liquid petroleum product.
A automobile’s most important parts are its engine and transmission system. The engine drives the vehicle and transmits power to the rear wheels through a gear transmission. A clutch connects the two systems.
The earliest attempts at developing automobiles were made in Britain during the late 18th century, but steam powered vehicles were limited by the lack of roads. Electric power was another option, but battery-powered cars had problems with range and charging stations were hard to find.
It was not until the 1880s that an inventor, Carl Benz, began producing and selling cars. His inventions included a gasoline engine and a two-cylinder engine.
In the United States, the first car to be affordable for the average American family was the Model T produced by Henry Ford in 1908. Using an assembly line to speed up production, Ford cut the time it took to build a car from 2.5 minutes per worker to a few seconds.
The automobile changed America. It gave people more personal freedom and access to jobs and services. It also helped develop leisure activities like motels, hotels and restaurants. It also introduced new laws and government requirements for safety, road regulations and drivers’ licenses. It also caused pollution and harm to the environment.