Automobiles are self-propelled vehicles that are used mainly for transportation of passengers and goods. They use an internal combustion engine powered by a volatile fuel such as petrol, diesel or CNG to drive the wheels and propel the vehicle.
Several types of automobiles are available in the market today with different designs and specifications. The main types are cars, trucks and buses. They are divided into passenger, commercial and special purpose vehicles depending on their intended uses.
Cars are the primary means of transportation for people around the world with an estimated 1.4 billion cars in operation worldwide and nearly 70 million new units built each year. They have become a very profitable industry as they are widely used for both passenger and goods transport.
The invention of the modern automobile, a vehicle that is propelled by an internal combustion engine using a volatile fuel, has been described as one of the greatest inventions in history. However, automobiles have numerous technical and safety problems that can lead to serious accidents.
Automakers have a responsibility to ensure that the design of their vehicles meets international regulations for air pollution, safety, and emission control. They also have to provide customers with a safe, comfortable ride that is environmentally friendly and economical.
As such, many technological innovations have been made in the development of automobiles over the years. These advances are based on research and development by engineers and scientists. These have involved thousands of component parts, and have developed from new technologies such as electronic computers, high-strength plastics, and the introduction of new alloys of steel and nonferrous metals.
Some important innovations in the automobile have included the use of the first electric ignition, electric self-starters, independent suspensions and four-wheel brakes. Other developments include the use of advanced materials such as aluminum and titanium, and improved aerodynamics that have reduced fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.
There are several kinds of vehicles and these vary in their size, capacity, power, speed, and cost. Examples are the car, truck, bus, van and a small motorcycle.
The automotive industry has been dominated by American firms in recent decades, although European and Asian manufacturers have continued to expand their production. The large-scale, mass-production process introduced by Ransom Eli Olds and Henry Ford in the early twentieth century led to the rise of a global industry.
During the early nineteenth century, several inventors attempted to build motorized vehicles. The earliest was Samuel Brown in 1826, who built a steam-powered vehicle that could be driven.
In 1886, a German engineer named Karl Benz patented the Benz-Motorwagen, which was an automobile powered by an Otto gasoline engine. Other notable engineers who worked on motor vehicles during this time were Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach.
In 1890 Daimler and Maybach founded the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft in Cannstatt, Germany, which began to produce vehicles under the name of Daimler. They produced about thirty vehicles from 1890 to 1895, and they seem to have been unaware of the work that Benz and Maybach had done in the earlier years.