The automobile, or car, is a wheeled motor vehicle that is used for transportation. Its power source is usually an internal combustion engine running on gasoline or other liquid fuel, but it can also be powered by other sources such as electricity, nuclear energy, or hydrogen. Its transmission system is designed to transmit the engine’s power to one or more wheels. Modern cars are generally driven by a front-wheel drive system, though some designs have four-wheel-drive systems as well.
The scientific and technical building blocks of the automobile go back hundreds of years, but the first true automobile was built in the late 1800s. It is often credited to Karl Benz, an engineer from Germany. The development of the automobile has had a huge impact on society and the way we live.
It spawned new industries and provided jobs for millions of people. It also changed the world’s culture, bringing people closer to nature and making leisure activities more available. It has made traveling easier, allowing people to visit new places and see more of their home country. It has also made people less reliant on public transport or friends to travel for them, and it has helped some families to become mobile rather than having to stay in the same place all the time.
Automobiles are generally regarded as more environmentally friendly than other types of vehicles, and they allow people to travel over vast distances with ease. They do not pollute the air as horses do, and they can carry passengers to remote areas of the world that would be difficult or impossible to reach on foot. However, they have their drawbacks, as they are expensive to own and operate and can be dangerous when they are driven poorly.
Various definitions have been formulated for the term automobile, but most agree that it is a motor vehicle that seats one to eight people and is used mainly for transport. It is usually a passenger vehicle, but it can be a cargo vehicle, a utility truck, or a van as well. The term is derived from the French words auto- + mobile, which mean self-propelled vehicle.
Despite the slowing of innovation in automobile design and production technology, the industry remains an important force in society. It is the largest consumer of steel, petroleum products and other industrial raw materials, and it provides one out of every six jobs in the United States. Its demand for products has spurred the growth of other businesses, such as repair shops and insurance companies.