Automobiles are vehicles that use an engine to get from one place to another. They usually have four wheels and are primarily used for transporting people. They can be powered by steam, electric current, gasoline, diesel fuel or some other type of volatile liquid or gas. Automobiles can be designed for off-road or high-speed driving, and some are adapted to particular uses such as ambulances and police cars.
Despite their many benefits, automobiles have some disadvantages. They can be expensive to own and maintain, and they produce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. They also can be dangerous if they are not driven safely. Drivers can minimize these negative effects by choosing fuel-efficient cars and taking safety precautions.
An automobile can be a personal vehicle such as a car, van or pickup truck, or it can be a commercial or government vehicle like a bus or a taxi. Most automobiles are passenger cars with seating for one to seven people. Vehicles with seats for more than seven people are called limousines, minivans, trucks, buses or SUVs. Automobiles can also be made for hauling cargo or for special purposes such as fire engines and ambulances.
The invention of the automobile greatly increased the mobility of people in the world. It gave them the ability to travel farther from home and see more of the country and the world. This freedom of movement had profound effects on society and how people live. It influenced how they work and play, and it changed the way that cities were built. It allowed people to escape the city and live in the countryside, or to move from rural areas to urban ones.
While it is difficult to determine exactly who invented the automobile, many people contributed to its development. The earliest automobiles were steam engines attached to wagons in the late 18th century. Then, Karl Benz developed the Benz Motorwagen in 1885 or 1886. It was the first automobile to use an internal combustion engine fueled by gasoline.
Inventors continued to refine the automobile. George B. Selden received a patent for a two-stroke internal combustion engine in 1895. He had the first commercially successful automobile in the United States. Other inventors developed four-stroke and even multi-stroke engines. In the end, however, the internal combustion engine won out.
Automobiles are a very popular form of transportation. There are 1.4 billion cars in operation worldwide, and around 70 million are manufactured each year. Approximately five out of every 11 people own an automobile. Automobiles are often faster and more convenient than public transportation such as buses, bikes and trains, and they can carry more luggage. They can go places that are inaccessible to other forms of wheeled transportation such as rough roads and steep hills. They are generally safer than walking or riding a bike because the driver is in control of the vehicle. In addition, they are often less expensive than using a taxi or renting a bus.