Automobiles are a type of vehicle that is self-propelled and is used for the transportation of passengers. They are usually four-wheeled and are powered by an internal combustion engine that burns a fuel such as gasoline or diesel.
Modern automobiles are a complex technical system containing sub-systems with specific design functions. The major components of an automobile include body, chassis, engine, drivetrain and control systems. These systems use thousands of component parts that have evolved from breakthroughs in existing technology and from new technologies such as electronic computers, high-strength plastics, and new alloys of steel and nonferrous metals.
There are many types of automobiles including passenger cars, trucks, vans and sports utility vehicles. There are also vehicles that are designed for special purposes such as ambulances, fire brigades and crane vehicles at construction sites.
The first known automobile was a three-wheeled vehicle that was built in 1769 by French engineer Captain Nicholas Cugnot. It was a steam-powered car and reached a speed of 2.5 miles per hour.
Today, automobiles are one of the most common forms of transport in the world, with 73 million vehicles produced worldwide in 2017. They are made by one of the largest industries in the world and are the most widely used form of transportation on earth.
Some people may choose to take public transportation instead of driving their own car when they live in a large city. This can save time and money. It can also be a good way to avoid traffic congestion, which can slow down other motorists.
Other people may choose to have their own cars because they are comfortable driving them and can get around quickly. They can also go places that are hard to reach by public transport.
There are a few disadvantages to owning a vehicle, however. The most obvious is that it can cost a lot of money to own and maintain. This can be especially true for older models.
Another downside is that cars produce a lot of pollution, which can be harmful to the environment and human health. They are also a source of greenhouse gas emissions, which can contribute to climate change.
Finally, they can cause accidents. These accidents can be catastrophic for the people involved and can result in severe physical injuries or even death.
The most famous example of an accident is the Rolls Royce Cullinan, which crashed into the sea while trying to escape from British forces in 1917. Other notable accidents include Mary Ward, who was killed in a crash in Ireland in 1869 and Henry Bliss, who died in a collision in New York City in 1899.
Cars have come a long way since those early days, with improvements in the design of engines and transmissions improving their fuel efficiency. This has resulted in cars achieving much higher speeds than ever before and with better safety features. They have also become much more sophisticated, with drivers able to do all sorts of things in their cars from controlling the temperature and lights to adjusting the music system and getting a hands-free call through the car’s speaker system.