Automobiles are a type of road vehicle which is capable of carrying passengers and is usually powered by an internal combustion engine. They are classified by their purpose as passenger automobiles, commercial vehicles, and special purpose vehicles.
Passenger cars comprise a significant proportion of the global fleet, with around 1.4 billion in operation worldwide and over 70 million new units produced each year. They are used for travel and recreation, and can be either gasoline or diesel powered.
They can be designed to handle rough terrain or high speeds, with many being capable of off-road driving as well as on-road use. The design of the vehicle is influenced by its intended use, including passenger comfort options and engine performance, and stability depends on many factors such as distribution of weight between front and rear wheels, height of centre of gravity and suspension characteristics.
During the first half of the 20th century, the automobile was a game-changer in transportation and social life. It revolutionized industrial manufacturing by introducing the concept of assembly lines. The Model T, the first mass-produced American car, was sold for less than $500 in 1908.
A car’s primary function is to transport people or goods. Its secondary function is to provide safety and convenience.
The first automobile was developed in 1886 by German inventor Carl Benz. He patented his Benz Patent-Motorwagen and began selling them in Germany the following year.
During the next decade, the automobile overtook horse-drawn carriages in Europe and the United States. During the 1920s, cars became more affordable as Ford pioneered assembly line production.