Automobiles – The Main Form of Passenger Transportation
Automobiles are the main form of passenger transportation in most countries. They are powered by an internal combustion engine and most commonly burn gasoline (petrol in British English). They have four wheels and are propelled by the energy from a chemical reaction within an engine (motor). The motor can send that power to the wheels through a set of gears that can make the car go faster or slower. The amount of energy the engine can send to the wheels is measured in kilowatts or horsepower.
Engineers have designed many different automobiles. They have had to balance many factors in their design: safety, comfort, fuel economy, and cost. The earliest automobiles were very expensive and only available to the wealthy. They often were built by hand. Karl Benz of Germany is credited with inventing the modern automobile around 1885 or 1886. He used a four-stroke engine in his Benz Patent-Motorwagen. Gottlieb Daimler of Germany and Wilhelm Maybach of the Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft later created a more advanced vehicle.
American businessman and engineer Henry Ford introduced mass production methods in 1908. They allowed automobiles to be made cheaper, making them affordable for middle-class families.
Today, there are an estimated 1.4 billion automobiles in operation worldwide. They are the dominant form of personal transportation and serve as a powerful force for change in modern society. As the automobile has become more important, new industries and businesses have developed to meet its demand for parts and fuel. Automobiles have also increased social freedom and created a lifestyle based on convenience, shopping, entertainment, and recreation.