A car (or automobile) is a wheeled passenger vehicle designed primarily for personal transportation and typically propelled by an internal-combustion engine using a volatile fuel. Its development and manufacture are known as automobile engineering. Modern automobiles are complex technical systems with a wide variety of subsystems, all of which have specific design functions. These subsystems are the result of breakthroughs in existing technologies and a host of new ones that continue to evolve.
The automobile has transformed society and our lives in many ways. It has brought convenience and freedom, but it has also brought pollution and traffic problems. It has led to new laws and government requirements, such as seatbelts and highway rules. It has given people access to jobs, places to live and leisure activities. But perhaps its greatest impact has been in giving us mobility, which is a necessary life skill that enables us to take care of our daily needs.
There are about 1.4 billion cars in operation worldwide, and more than 70 million are made each year. Passenger vehicles make up the majority of automobiles. In the United States, there are about 140 million passenger cars, or one for every eleven people.
Automobiles are a major source of economic activity, providing jobs in parts of the world that wouldn’t otherwise have them and bringing people together in a way that would not have been possible before the advent of the automobile. In addition, the automobile has given rise to a new form of communication and has become a symbol of independence for the individual. In 1916, Nell Richardson and Alice Burke drove a car across the country to advocate for women’s rights to vote. They decorated their car with “votes for women” banners, and their bold act became a symbol of the strength and identity that was beginning to emerge for American women.
History has many different accounts of who invented the automobile. The most commonly accepted story is that of Karl Benz, who was an engineer from Germany. Other inventors and engineers had been working on similar designs, but Benz’s version was the first to be successfully produced.
The history of the automobile is full of interesting details and milestones. Here are some of the more significant events: