Automobiles are vehicles that use an internal combustion engine to power the vehicle’s motion. This type of engine is typically powered by gas, but may also be powered by diesel or electricity.
Generally, automobiles can be classified as cars, trucks, buses, vans or other vehicles that carry passengers and cargo. There are also motorcycles, scooties, mopeds and other two-wheeled automobiles.
The first vehicle conceived as an automobile was invented in 1885 by Karl Benz, of Germany. It was fitted with a four-stroke engine of his design. Benz also patented a battery ignition system, a spark plug, an accelerator for speed regulation, and a clutch.
From the late nineteenth century to World War II, car production was very limited. Only a few companies produced small, three-wheeled automobiles for commercial uses.
However, after World War II, many companies began to manufacture cars in significant numbers. These manufacturers ranged from relatively unknown, low-volume operations to the large, global companies that dominate the industry today.
There are four major components that make up an automobile: Frame, Chassis, Body and Engine. The chassis is the skeleton of the vehicle and contains the base components such as engine, radiator, clutch, gearbox, silencer, road wheels, fuel tank, wiring, differential unit etc.
Generally, the engine is located in the front side of the vehicle. However, very few vehicles have an engine located in the rear side, such as Nano cars.
In 1908, American industrialist Henry Ford revolutionized automotive technology by mass-producing the Model T. It was a runabout that sold for less than $650, making it within reach of most middle-class American consumers. It was the first mass-produced automobile to be available to the general public. It is widely credited with accelerating the transition from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles and with further de-urbanizing the car by making it an individual transportation option.